Just Stop Oil activists give Met Police ‘run-around’

Just Stop Oil activists block A22

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Just Stop Oil activists have given the Metropolitan Police the “run-around” after the force insisted it was “fully prepared” to tackle disruption. The group believes its new method of demonstrating will prevent its protesters from coming into trouble with the law.

Activists today blocked traffic on two key routes in the capital in an attempt to draw attention to their call for the Government to halt all new oil and gas licences.

The Met knew of the planned action, describing itself as “fully prepared”.

A spokesperson said officers would “arrive quickly, deal with the situation efficiently, remove/arrest activists as appropriate [and] return things to normal as soon as possible”.

But a journalist at the scene said police were “given the run-around today” by the “unbothered” activists.

The group arrived at Shepherd’s Bush station at 8am and were allowed to march slowly in the middle of the road.

Chief Inspector Billy Bowen-Long told MailOnline that officers could not intervene because the protest was lawful.

After causing disruption on roads, a group activists then arrived at a London pub to celebrate a birthday.

Met officials parked on the opposite side of the road to keep watch while the protesters enjoyed some drinks.

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Chief Inspector Bowen-Long said: “We have to work within the confines of the law and the law is very clear, protest is lawful in this country and it’s only when it crossed a threshold and becomes unreasonable or unlawful that we have the power to intervene.

“That’s the basic issue. People get very upset with people being in the highway but use of the highway for protest is lawful and we have to meet the threshold of showing it’s become unreasonable before we intervene.

“Because it’s a peaceful protest until such time it crosses that we have no power to stop it until that point. It may be someone has protested the previous day and hasn’t been arrested but until they show up the following day we have no power to act.”

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He added: “If people do show up on a number of occasions then we will charge put them before the courts and it’s up to the court to decide.”

Just Stop Oil said its disruption followed reports of “yet another Government directed police ‘crackdown’ on nonviolent action”.

A spokesperson added: “We will not be intimidated by changes to the law or Government posturing on tougher policing tactics.

“Just Stop Oil supporters understand that this is irrelevant when set against mass starvation, slaughter and the loss of our rights, freedoms and communities.

“The Government can end this disruption tomorrow if they agree to halt new oil and gas licences and consents.”

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