parliamentary candidate arrested by cops

  • Post last modified:March 21, 2024
  • Reading time:8 mins read

On Thursday 21 March in Basildon Crown Court, Just Stop Oil tunnellers Samuel Johnson, Larch Maxey, Joe Howlett, and Autumn Wharrie were found guilty over their occupation. The four are expecting to be sentenced in June. The verdict came is as cops were also arresting other Just Stop Oil activists – thanks to a snitch hack at the Daily Mail. One of them even stood as an MP candidate in the Rochdale by-election – and is a vicar.

Just Stop Oil tunnellers guilty – of standing up to big oil

First, the Just Stop Oil Essex tunnellers took action in August 2022, demanding the UK government immediately halts all licensing and consents for new fossil fuel exploration and extraction:

Just Stop Oil tunnellers

The group took action by occupying tunnels dug under the road leading to the Navigator Oil Terminal in Thurrock, Essex. This occurred simultaneously with three other tunneling actions in Essex and Warwickshire, as well as occupations of oil trucks and terminals overground. These combined efforts massively impacted the flow and operation of oil in the UK at the time.

A sixth person, Xavier Trimmer-Gonzalez, took action with this group, but died in 2023 after spending time in prison following his actions with Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil. A two minute silence was observed during the trial to show respect to his memory.

Sam Johnson said today:

I’m Sam, a construction worker from Essex and I took action simply because we have run out of time. We have known for longer than I’ve been alive what would happen if we kept burning fossil fuels – and now we are seeing this catastrophe unfold in real time. I have a nephew who is seven years old who I love to bits. As long as I have breath in my lungs I will fight to protect his future.

The group remained in the 52-foot tunnel for 13 days. At the time, Chief Constable of Essex Police, BJ Harrington, recognised in a statement that the climate crisis is a “serious concern”. However, Essex police put the lives of the action takers and motorists at risk by opening the roads over the tunnel.

At the time, action taker Joe Howlett said:

The climate crisis is caused by a very small minority of people and it’s those same people who are currently profiteering from the cost of living crisis. That’s why I’ve spent the last 10 days living in a tunnel under a road leading to the Navigator oil terminal in Essex.

Then, over the past 48 hours, two Just Stop Oil supporters have been unexpectedly held by the police for conspiracy to commit burglary:

Cops now arresting parliamentary candidates

Rosa Hicks from London, was walking home from a community event in Camden at around 9pm on Wednesday 20 March when a Met Police vehicle pulled up and she was forced into the van by six officers. As of 4pm on 21 March she is still being held at Islington Police Station.

On Tuesday 19 March, Reverend Mark Coleman (who stood as a candidate in the Rochdale by-election) was arrested outside his home in Rochdale at around 5:15pm by plainclothes officers, and taken to Bury custody suite. At 9:26pm that day, PC Jonathan Fryer and Detective Constable Philip O’Connor from the Public Order Crime Unit at Lambeth interviewed Reverend Coleman.

They described intelligence that they had gained from reading a Daily Mail article which claimed that Just Stop Oil supporters planned to occupy the homes and offices of MPs. The article came about because a journalist infiltrated Just Stop Oil.

Cops questioned Reverend Coleman about his political activities.

WTF is this?

Reverend Coleman has made the following comment:

Their line of questioning went like this: ‘Who are the other members of Just Stop Oil involved – is one of them Phoebe? Why did you stand for election in Rochdale? What does “occupy” mean? Do you intend to occupy? Does anyone intend to occupy? Do you intend to cause damage? Do you intend to intimidate? What types of criminal damage are you intending?’

‘How did you do at the election? What agenda did you have for standing? What would you do had you won? Did you run on a no new oil ticket? What else were you going to do? Would you sit in a politician’s office? Would you occupy the Palace of Westminster legitimately and then illegitimately protest? Do you believe that this is democracy in action? Do you know that several members of Parliament have been killed? What do you think is a reasonable or likely outcome for MPs? Do you think that activities leading to the death of MPs is a reasonable strategy for JSO?’

They said my bail conditions would prevent me attending the homes and offices of MPs or parliamentary candidates. A clerical error means my bail conditions only restrict me from attending their homes – which is not something I have ever done. But being instructed not to go to MPs offices or the offices of those standing for parliament rather excludes me from the democratic processes. It was a privilege to stand for parliament in the recent by-election. I have committed no crime – why am I being excluded from playing a part in the normal political life of the place where I live?

On the morning of 6 March, Just Stop Oil supporter Phoebe Plummer was arrested by plainclothes officers in Vauxhall for ‘conspiracy to commit burglary.’ She was interviewed and held for a short time at Walworth Custody Suite before being released later that day.

On 14 March, she and Rosa Hicks delivered a letter to the home of Emily Thornberry. The pair asked the police officer stationed outside: “We’re here to post a letter, is that OK?”, to which the police officer replied: “You can post the letter, yeah, I can’t stop you from posting a letter”. Afterwards Phoebe was arrested again, for breach of bail conditions she was given on 6 March.

Featured image and additional images via Just Stop Oil 

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