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Just Stop Oil protester convicted after climbing M25 gantry

Just Stop Oil protester Cressida Gethin, 22, arrives at Isleworth Crown Court in London
Cressida Gethin, 22, a Just Stop Oil protester, arrives at Isleworth Crown Court in London - PA

A Just Stop Oil protester who delayed thousands of people when she scaled a gantry on the M25 has said her protest was a “manageable inconvenience” in relation to the impact of climate change.

Cressida Gethin, a 22-year-old Cambridge University music student, has been found guilty of causing public nuisance after she scaled a gantry on the motorway to protest after the UK recorded its hottest temperature on record at 40C.

She was found guilty by a majority of 10 to two of causing a public nuisance contrary to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 at Isleworth Crown Court on Monday.

During her trial, the court heard the protest, on July 20 2022, delayed 3,923 British Airways passengers’ journeys.

Chris Packham, the BBC broadcaster, who last week told the court he “selectively supports” Just Stop Oil, told the jury he was stuck in four to five hours of traffic as a result of the actions.

Gethin told the court: “If you believed that the protest causing the delays was intended to create meaningful, positive change, would you have defined the delay as ‘serious inconvenience’?

“Or would you have experienced it as a proportionate and manageable inconvenience, given that the policy change the protest was seeking to achieve would literally save thousands of lives in the coming decades?”

Protestors on an M25 gantry halted traffic and  disrupted almost 4,000 BA passengers
Protestors on an M25 gantry halted traffic and disrupted almost 4,000 BA passengers - Just Stop Oil/PA

Gethin, who represented herself, did not dispute scaling the gantry but argued that the consequence did not amount to the charge.

But Judge Hannah Duncan said “evidence about climate change wasn’t admissible or relevant”. She said she believed the average person would consider the climate crisis “far more serious” than a nuisance, but that “that’s not what they [the jury] are considering”.

Packham, the BBC Springwatch presenter, was asked during his testimony how he felt about being delayed and said: “Initially I felt very frustrated and then obviously I researched, and on trying to navigate a quicker route, I discovered the reason was that protesters were active on the M25, and then I changed my thinking.”

Speaking to the press ahead of giving evidence, he said he would consider joining the group if they came up with more “creative” ideas.

Gethin will be sentenced on May 3.