A professor at the University of Sussex said breaking the law was the "only moral thing to do" after he blocked the M25 during a divisive protest.

Nicholas John Till, professor of opera and music theatre at the University of Sussex will have to pay fees of £3,200 and do unpaid work for 80 hours after he blocked the country's busiest road during a divisive Insulate Britain protest.

The professor shut down the M25 alongside dozens of other protesters on September 15, 2021, and had to be removed by police officers at Junction 1A near Dartford.

Professor Till demanded the UK government insulate social housing across the country and retrofit all homes with better insulation by 2030 - which would reduce energy usage and therefore carbon emissions.

The Argus: Insulate Britain protesters blocking the M25Insulate Britain protesters blocking the M25 (Image: Insulate Britain)

The 68-year-old said: "The carbon state had brought all its might to silence and crush those of us who undertook a non-violent act of civil resistance to raise the alarm about the climate emergency.

"We knew the penalties we faced, but there are times when breaking the law is the only moral thing to do. We all respect the need for law and order, but there will be no law and order when climate breakdown leads to societal collapse.

"Ultimately, we acted in defence of law and order, not against it.”

The Argus: Nicholas outside Hove Crown CourtNicholas outside Hove Crown Court (Image: Insulate Britain)

Nicholas - found guilty of causing a public nuisance - joined the music department at Sussex University in 2004 and took up the role of director of research for the school of media, film and music between 2016 and 2018.

A spokeswoman for the University of Sussex said: “We are aware of the outcome of the court case relating to Professor Nicholas Till but we will not comment on individual cases.” 

In October 2021,Nicholas blocked Upper Thames Street in London as part of the same campaign. 

He was sentenced to 6 weeks suspended for 18 months, 40 hours unpaid work, £3,500 costs and a £128 surcharge.

The Crown Prosecution Service has charged a total of 56 Insulate Britain protesters to answer at least 201 charges of public nuisance across at least 45 jury trials.

The Argus: Left to right: Nicholas Till, Louise Lancaster, Stefana Morosi and Tim SpeersLeft to right: Nicholas Till, Louise Lancaster, Stefana Morosi and Tim Speers (Image: Insulate Britain)

Nicholas was joined by Louise Lancaster, Stefania Morosi, and Tim Speers at the blockade.

Louise, 58, a teacher from Cambridge said: “I am proud to have been in nonviolent civil resistance with Insulate Britain to save lives, stop families choosing between heating and eating and strive for a livable future for all.

"The state ensured that our defences in law were ruled out, I call on the legal profession to push back against criminalising those sounding the alarm in this crisis.”

Louise was given an 18-month suspended sentence and ordered to do 140 hours of unpaid work and pay £2500 in costs.