AN INSULATE Britain activist was fined £500 for contempt of court after sticking his middle finger up at a judge during a hearing into the blocking of the M25 last year. 

Xavier Gonzalez-Trimmer was hauled before the court after the judge and police officers spotted him making the gesture “wilfully, deliberately and with some enthusiasm” as he was leaving the public gallery of Lewes Crown Court yesterday. 

Earlier in the morning the activist had pleaded not guilty to causing a public nuisance after blocking Junction 1 of the M25 on September 15 as part of the Insulate Britain protests. 

He was remanded in custody after refusing to apologise to His Honour Judge Stephen Mooney, and was later brought before the court after being held in contempt.  

“You thought you were being clever when in fact you were being rather stupid,” Judge Mooney told the defendant. 

He was given six months to pay the fine. If he fails to do so, he will face 14 days in prison.

In mitigation, defence barrister Chloe Gardner told the court the 21-year-old, of Portnall Road, London, was “much less mature” than the other defendants in court that day. 

Gonzalez-Trimmer is one of a group of Insulate Britain activists – many in their 50s, 60s and 70s - who have appeared before the judge this week charged with public nuisance offences. 

They include Venetia Carter, 58, of Sutherland Road, Brighton, who pleaded not guilty yesterday to causing a public nuisance on the M25 on September 15 last year. 

The Argus: The defendants had originally appeared at Crawley magistrates courtThe defendants had originally appeared at Crawley magistrates court

The hearings come as the government introduced a new public order bill in the Queen’s Speech this week that is widely expected to target green groups such as Insulate Britain who have used disruptive methods to draw attention to the climate crisis. 

The climate campaigners appearing before the judge this week are among the first group of Insulate Britain protesters to appear before the courts. 

Judge Mooney released Carter on unconditional bail ahead of a jury trial on July 3, 2023. 

Other protesters who appeared in court yesterday and pleaded not guilty to the same charge included Louise Lancaster, 56, of Burnt Close, Grantchester, Cambridge; Susan Hagley, 66, of Tuddenham Road, Ipswich; Stefania Morosi, 44, of Hessel Road, London, and Jessica Causby, 25, of Longfield Avenue, London. 

Margaret Mulowska, 34, of Wapshott Road, Staines, Surrey, also pleaded not guilty to blocking the M25 on September 15 last year and to a separate charge of blocking the motorway two days earlier. 

The trial of Lancaster will take place on October 2, 2023, with Hagley appearing before a jury on September 4, 2023, and Morosi’s trial taking place on November 6 next year.  

Mulowska will face trial on May 8 for the offence alleged to have taken place on September 13, and on August 7 for the offence alleged to have taken place two days later. 

The judge issued a warrant for arrest not backed with bail against Pryiadaka Conway, 60, of Auckland Road, Cambridge, and Catherine Eastburn, 54, of St Gerard’s Close, London, after they failed to appear in court to face public nuisance charges relating to the protest.

Conway was said to be currently on a Buddhist retreat in Snowdonia. 

A series of trials into the blocking of the motorway by Insulate Britain activists are now expected to run at Lewes Crown Court between April and December next year. 

Judge Mooney is due to hear pleas from the final group of protesters in court today. 

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