Just Stop Oil protesters who caused £62k loss at Les Misérables performance leave court with unpaid work

-Credit: (Image: PA)
-Credit: (Image: PA)


Five Just Stop Oil protesters convicted of aggravated trespass will not pay compensation after they stormed a performance of Les Misérables in London's West End. Two of the activists were also found guilty of criminal damage after standing on the theatre's orchestra pit netting, causing around £2,000 in 'structural damage', Westminster Magistrates' Court heard.

The show at Sondheim Theatre was halted at 9pm on October 5 2023, when protesters entered the stage during a performance of 'Do You Hear The People Sing?' and locked themselves to the set. The 'angry' audience of around 1,000 people were asked to leave the auditorium, costing the theatre an estimated £60,000, the court was told.

Having denied the charge, Hannah Taylor, 23, Lydia Gribbin, 28, Hanan Ameur, 22, Noah Crane, 18, and Poppy Bliss, 19, were found guilty of aggravated trespass following a trial at Westminster Magistrates' Court. Gribbin and Crane were additionally found guilty of criminal damage. But, at Thursday's hearing the judge made no order to pay the theatre compensation.

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During sentencing on Thursday Judge Briony Clarke said the disruption was “planned well in advance” and the defendants had brought bike locks, bought tickets for the show and wore T-shirts bearing the name of their cause before climbing on to the stage. It was a “deliberate act” in which “a great number of people were inconvenienced”, the judge said.

Giving evidence, Gribbin said she did not want the orchestra pit to be damaged by the protest and believed it would be safe to stand on the netting. The netting is designed to protect the musicians below from objects falling off the stage. The cost of repairing the damage and refunding the audience was covered by the theatre's insurance.

Asked how the audience had reacted, theatre manager Daniel Lewis told the court: "I heard frustration, I heard anger, I heard swearing." Les Miserables company manager Matt Byham said he was 'angry' the protest had happened when a child actor was on stage.

Detective Superintendent Sian Thomas, investigating, said: “The people in the audience on that evening had spent their hard-earned money and were entitled to enjoy an evening out before the disruptive actions of these people ruined it.

“We have been clear time and again that while we will always respect peaceful protest, when there is clear criminality – as is the case here – then we will make arrests and seek to prosecute those responsible.”

The sentences

Just Stop Oil of activists disrupting a performance of Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre
Just Stop Oil of activists disrupting a performance of Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre
  • Hannah Taylor, 23, of Longcroft Road, Dronfield Woodhouse - Community Order 12 months. 15 days rehabilitation activity requirement. 100 hours unpaid. £279 costs. £114 victim surcharge.

  • Lydia Gribbin, 28, of Sydenham Lane, Cotham, Bristol - Community Order 12 months. 10 days rehabilitation activity requirement. 100 hours unpaid. £279 costs. £114 victim surcharge.

  • Hanan Ameur, 22, of Hornsey Road, N7 - Community Order 12 months. 15 days rehabilitation activity requirement. 80 hours unpaid work. £279 costs. £114 victim surcharge.

  • Noah Crane, 18, of Aylsham Road, Buxton - Community Order 12 months. 130 hours unpaid work. £279 costs. £114 victim surcharge.

  • Poppy Bliss, 19, of School Lane, Thurston - Community Order 12 months. 10 days rehabilitation activity requirement. 80 hours unpaid work. £279 costs. £114 victim surcharge.

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