The committal application related to protestor action on the M25 motorway on 29 October 2021 and 2 November 2021. Although two of the three defendants admitted breaching the injunction on 2 November 2021, the Court found that the South Mimms roundabout was not part of the M25, and the congestion was caused by the police vehicles, rather than the protestors. It followed that although breach was admitted, the Court dismissed the application for committal of those defendants as what they did was not a breach of the injunction.
In respect of the 29 October and the remaining 16 defendants, the Court found that each of the defendants was in contempt of court for breaching the injunction. In each case, it was held that the contempt was so serious that only a custodial penalty would suffice, although the Court considered that each defendant had admitted contempt sufficiently in advance of the hearing to justify a full reduction of one third of the sanction imposed. Five defendants were awarded immediate terms of between 24 and 42 days imprisonment, and the remaining 11 defendants received terms of 24 to 60 days imprisonment suspended for 2 years.
Michael Fry and Jonathan Welch appeared for Highways England (led by David Elvin QC) instructed by DLA Piper (UK) LLP and Government Legal Department. Michael and Jonathan also secured the underlying injunction order on 21 September 2021.
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