Just Stop Oil activist jailed for six months for taking part in slow march

A climate activist has been jailed for six months after pleading guilty to taking part in a peaceful slow march protest on a London road.

The sentence handed to Stephen Gingell, 57, is thought to be the first jailing under a new law that critics say makes anyone walking in a road liable for prosecution for “interference with key national infrastructure”.

Section 7 of the Public Order Act 2023 bans any act that prevents newspaper printing presses, power plants, oil and gas extraction or distribution sites, harbours, airports, railways or roads “from being used or operated to any extent”, with a potential penalty of 12 months in jail.

Gingell, a father of three from Manchester, was one of about 40 supporters of Just Stop Oil who spent about 30 minutes marching on Holloway Road in north London at about 4pm on 12 November, the climate campaign group said.

Just Stop Oil has been campaigning since 2022 for the UK government to stop all new fossil fuel production. The campaign’s “guerrilla tactics” were cited by the Home Office when it introduced the Public Order Act’s tough new anti-protest measures to parliament.