A Northampton Crown Court has found six climate change protesters from "Just Stop Oil" guilty of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance after staging a protest by invading the track in last year's Formula One British Grand Prix. According to Express, Crown jurors ruled that the activists, four men and two women, caused an "immediate risk of serious harm" by trespassing and sitting on the track as Formula One vehicles passed by.
The incident occurred just after the initial start when a major accident involving Zhou Guanyu caused the race to be red flagged. As the field was making its way back to pit road for the stoppage, five of the six protesters ran onto Wellington Straight and sat down as cars drove by. The protesters were quickly dragged away by track marshals and police.
Prosecutors noted that the actions of the protesters caused risk to themselves as well as Formula One drivers and marshals, and that each individual was at Silverstone Circuit with "intent on causing a disruption to the race." The defendants claimed that their plan did not risk serious harm, claiming that their actions had been taken after a red flag was displayed to halt the race.
"Plainly they could have been struck by fast-moving vehicles with obvious severe consequences," prosecutor Simon Jones told the court. "We say that that their actions also caused risk to the drivers themselves and the marshals."
The protesters were warned that they could be sentenced to jail time when they return to court on March 31. The defendants were granted bail after agreeing not to become involved in future protests while awaiting sentencing.
"All of them should understand and be in no doubt that I will be considering all possible options when it comes to sentence, and that includes the possibility of a prison sentence," Mr Justice Garnham said.
Just Stop Oil is an environmental activist group that has employed direct action tactics with the demand that the British government stop all new oil and gas projects. The group has employed actions such as disruptions, sabotage and vandalism, including last fall when they made international headlines by throwing soup on Vincent van Gogh's "Sunflowers" painting at the National Gallery in London.