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Protesters plan ‘six-week campaign that will gridlock Parliament, clog courts and stretch police’


Climate-change zealots are plotting to paralyse Parliament during a six-week campaign of chaos, an investigation by The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Activists from Just Stop Oil will block key roads and bridges around Westminster next month in a direct challenge to Liz Truss’s Conservative Government.

Organisers are preparing for 3,000 of their volunteers to be arrested during days of protest and disruption designed to stretch the police to breaking point and clog the capital’s courts.

Details of the plot can be revealed today after our undercover reporter posed as an eco-activist and infiltrated a series of Just Stop Oil meetings.

At one meeting in Birmingham last week, Roger Hallam, the firebrand founder of Just Stop Oil, disclosed that the campaign will kick off next Saturday with thousands of protesters blocking bridges over the Thames in London ‘all day’. ‘This is like resistance, British-style,’ he boasted.

Hallam claimed that the Metropolitan Police would be ‘too scared’ to initially arrest activists – but that it would be forced to do so as the protests escalate. And then every day from then on people will be in London sitting in the road, and they will be arrested.’

He said the group was aiming to identify and recruit 1,500 people prepared to get arrested twice in London during the campaign.

Another activist, a former businessman in his late 40s, told a meeting in Norwich earlier this month: ‘We’ve talked to people in the judicial system and they reckon the system couldn’t really cope with about 3,000 arrests.’

Just Stop Oil want their volunteers to get arrested. Pictured: A Just Stop Oil activist being arrested after they blockaded a filling station at Cobham services in Surrey

Our investigation is the second time in less than a year that we have exposed plans by Just Stop Oil to cause mayhem. In February, an undercover Mail on Sunday reporter revealed how the group was plotting to block oil refineries, motorways and petrol stations across Britain.

Two months later, more than 200 people were arrested amid a string of protests at key oil terminals. Activists later shut the M25 and targeted petrol forecourts in London during a spring and summer of chaos.

Now, as part of its autumn campaign, Just Stop Oil’s leaders have switched their focus from targeting the oil and gas industries to taking their fight to the heart of Westminster.

The group has spent months recruiting people prepared to go to prison for their cause through a series of meetings and workshops, both in person and online.

Central London’s bridges will initially be targeted during a protest march on Saturday. A series of ‘rolling’ road blockades will then hit the area near Parliament Square. MPs return from recess on October 11. Specific details about locations will only be shared with volunteers on the day.

Activists have recorded videos to be released on to social media in the event of them being arrested.

Last night, a spokesperson for the Met said: ‘The Met is aware of planned activity by Just Stop Oil. A robust policing plan will be in place to tackle any criminal behaviour, anti-social behaviour or disorder.’

As the nation mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth earlier this month, rebellion was brewing in a 19th Century meeting hall in Norfolk.

With the country transfixed on the first day of the late Monarch’s lying-in-state in Westminster Hall, 50 environmental activists filed into the Norwich Quaker Meeting House to plot the final details of a six-week campaign to cause chaos in Central London.

The Mail On Sunday uncovered Just Stop Oil's plans to cause chaos in London starting next week. Pictured: The group blocked the entrance to the Kingsbury Oil Terminal in Warwickshire in breach of a High Court injunction

The Mail On Sunday uncovered Just Stop Oil’s plans to cause chaos in London starting next week. Pictured: The group blocked the entrance to the Kingsbury Oil Terminal in Warwickshire in breach of a High Court injunction

Agitators from the militant eco-group Just Stop Oil discussed how to take their fight into the heart of Westminster by blocking key roads and bridges around Parliament Square – the scene of last week’s magnificent State Funeral procession.

What they did not know, however, was that their plot had been infiltrated by an undercover reporter from The Mail on Sunday.

Indeed this was just one of a series of meetings and workshops, both in person and online, attended by the MoS during recent weeks at which plans for an ‘October uprising’ were discussed.

The campaign, masterminded by veteran activist Roger Hallam, will be a direct challenge to Liz Truss’s Tory Government and the first major test faced by new Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley.

Our undercover investigation can reveal:

  • More than 1,500 people are being recruited to carry out hugely disruptive daily protests in London;
  • They each aim to get arrested at least twice over six weeks to try to overwhelm the courts system;
  • The campaign will start on Saturday with ‘thousands’ of protesters planning to block bridges across the River Thames;
  • Protesters will later block roads near Parliament Square to grab the attention of MPs and Government Ministers;
  • A Los Angeles-based organisation, backed by Hollywood millionaires, is raising funds to bankroll the protests.
Around 50 people were arrested after Just Stop Oil activists protested outside an oil terminal on September 14

Around 50 people were arrested after Just Stop Oil activists protested outside an oil terminal on September 14

Launched in April, Just Stop Oil held a series of hugely disruptive protests at oil refineries, petrol stations and motorways earlier this year. But in a change of tactics the group will now focus on paralysing the road network around the Houses of Parliament and Downing Street.

Oil heiress among American millionaires funding protests 

Just Stop Oil’s hugely disruptive protests are being bankrolled by Hollywood millionaires who want to provoke an ‘October uprising’ in the UK and ten other countries.

Climate Emergency Fund, a Los Angeles-based organisation, is already understood to have handed Just Stop Oil nearly $1 million. Now the organisation, whose office is in plush Beverly Hills, has launched a fresh fundraising drive to help Just Stop Oil and other activist groups launch a wave of ‘sustained, disruptive protest’ next month.

Ironically one of CEF’s co-founders is Aileen Getty, heiress of the Getty oil fortune. Another is Oscar-nominated director and producer Rory Kennedy, daughter of assassinated US senator Robert F Kennedy.

Oscar-winning film-maker Adam McKay, who directed the climate-change satire Don’t Look Up, last month donated £3.6 million to CEF. It has pledged to bankroll what it calls the ‘A22 network’ – a group of 11 eco-activist groups, including Just Stop Oil, in 11 different Western countries.

CEF’s website hails Just Stop Oil as a ‘model’ for other activist groups to emulate, and highlights how in April its protesters ‘sustained three weeks of disruptive nonviolent resistance, shutting down ten fossil fuel infrastructure sites at a time, restricting fuel supply in the UK.’

 

Protesters have been told to converge at 11am next Saturday and Sunday at Euston, Paddington and Waterloo stations for an initial wave of action that will target London’s bridges. From October 3, protesters have been ordered to converge on Downing Street each day.

An experienced activist, a former businessman in his late 40s, outlined the plans to the activists gathered in Norwich on September 14 – the day the Queen’s coffin was moved from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall.

He told the meeting: ‘There’s the march on the first of October and then after that weekend, we’re going to move into this more serious, focused road-blocking. And the idea is we’re going to cause disruption to Parliament, by blocking the roads around Westminster. And the idea of that is to cause disruption to provoke a kind of conversation about this issue.’

He added: ‘The other part of the strategy is causing attrition to the police. The idea is every day they’re having to arrest people and remove people from the road, and that obviously consumes police resources.

‘It takes a lot of police officers to arrest one person and process them through a cell. And we’ve talked to people in the judicial system, and they reckon the system couldn’t really cope with about 3,000 arrests. That would stress it to the point where the police would go to the Home Secretary and say: “Look, we can’t arrest our way out of this civil disobedience.” ’

Environmental scientist Dr Larch Maxey spoke passionately at the meeting for 45 minutes with the enthusiasm of an out-of-work actor relishing their first day back on set. Larch was arrested last month for occupying a tunnel under a road to disrupt oil supplies from a terminal in Essex.

Wearing a grubby polo shirt and shorts emblazoned with the motif ‘Rebel for Life’, Dr Maxey outlined how the group aimed to replicate the tactics of the Freedom Riders – civil-rights activists in the US who rode buses in the 1960s to challenge laws on racial segregation – by staging their action in a series of waves. ‘The Freedom Riders were not popular at the point of them causing disruption,’ he said. 

Launched in April, Just Stop Oil held a series of hugely disruptive protests at oil refineries, petrol stations and motorways earlier this year. Pictured: Officers arrest a woman during a protest at a BP petrol station on August 26

Launched in April, Just Stop Oil held a series of hugely disruptive protests at oil refineries, petrol stations and motorways earlier this year. Pictured: Officers arrest a woman during a protest at a BP petrol station on August 26

Just Stop Oil blocked the entrancement and exit to the BP petrol station as they fight for the Government to halt new fossil fuel licensing

Just Stop Oil blocked the entrancement and exit to the BP petrol station as they fight for the Government to halt new fossil fuel licensing

‘You never are. But they were doing what was necessary.’ The meeting was punctuated with doomsday warnings about the gravity of the climate crisis. ‘If we don’t sort this out, we are going to have societal collapse,’ Dr Maxey said. ‘This is terrifying.’

Later, a young activist made an unfortunate comparison between standing up for the Just Stop Oil cause and Germans resisting the Nazis. Another activist asked those present whether they held values that they would rather die for than see violated.

Such dramatic rhetoric – and the group’s militant methods – seemingly unsettled some at the meeting. Two older people shook their heads as they left during an interval. ‘We’re going, I don’t agree with it,’ one said. ‘It [climate change] is not good, but I can’t see a way out of it.’

There were also misgivings voiced during an online meeting attended by an undercover reporter. During the session, designed to build trust and courage among would-be protesters, participants were asked to state their preferred pronouns before taking part in some meditation.

When asked how everyone was feeling about the looming campaign, one woman, in her 60s, responded: ‘I think some of us feel unprepared. I need to get my finances sorted out.’

Her expression of doubt appeared to open the sluice gates for others to voice concerns.

‘I’m not at all prepared,’ added another woman.

Three Just Stop Oil protesters were arrested on September 4 after occupying a tunnel under a road by an oil terminal in Essex for 13 days

Three Just Stop Oil protesters were arrested on September 4 after occupying a tunnel under a road by an oil terminal in Essex for 13 days 

Action by members of the climate activist group Just Stop Oil at a BP filling station on the A40 in Perivale, west London

Action by members of the climate activist group Just Stop Oil at a BP filling station on the A40 in Perivale, west London

A third woman, in her 50s, chipped in: ‘I feel I would like to have had lots of role play regarding court. We are all going to be on our own, have we had enough preparation around what the group are doing?’

But the group’s leadership remained undeterred.

Addressing around 30 would-be protesters during a meeting in a room above a Birmingham pub last week, Hallam stressed the vital importance of their civil disobedience mission. ‘What I’m going to do in this next 20 or 30 minutes is give you the most terrifying information you are going to hear in your life,’ he declared. ‘So take a deep breath.

‘On the first of October, thousands of people are going to go on to bridges in London and stay on the bridges all day.

‘And then every day from then on people will be in London sitting in the road, and they will be arrested.’

Set up by Hallam barely a year ago, Just Stop Oil has shot to prominence due to a series of stunts, including interrupting major sporting events and blocking roads with protesters gluing themselves to the ground.

Its radical tactics have been drawn up by experienced activists from more established protest groups, such as Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Insulate Britain, both of which were co-founded by Hallam.

The bulk of Just Stop Oil’s funding is believed to come from rich backers in California.

The group has also, however, launched a fundraising drive in this country with would-be activists attending its meetings asked to donate an hour’s salary each month.

As of this week, 124 donors are registered to donate just over £1,200 per month between them.

Hallam asks donors to bankroll his activism via the fundraising website Patreon.

The Met has previously revealed that it was forced to spend £50 million policing Extinction Rebellion protests in 2019 and 2020, with former Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick admitting that the force was ‘stretched’.

Last night, a Met spokesman said: ‘A robust policing plan will be in place to tackle any criminal behaviour, anti-social behaviour or disorder.’

A spokesman for the Parliamentary Estate said: ‘We work closely with a number of partners to ensure that the business of Parliament can continue.’

The hardcore mob ready to bring chaos to the streets 

Miranda Whelehan

Had a bruising encounter with Richard Madeley on ITV’s Good Morning Britain in April. Madeley accused the 21-year-old, above, who grew up in a £1 million, five-bedroom house in Weybridge, Surrey, of being a hypocrite and branded Just Stop Oil as a ‘childish’ and ‘playground-ish’ response to a complex problem. 

She replied: ‘I would say that the answers are actually very simple. We need to stop new oil licensing and that’s what we’re asking.’ The exchange was likened to a scene in the Netflix satire Don’t Look Up, when a scientist, played by Jennifer Lawrence, fails to get two TV news anchors to take warnings about the end of the world seriously.

Miranda Whelehan (pictured) had a bruising encounter with Richard Madeley on ITV’s Good Morning Britain in April

Miranda Whelehan (pictured) had a bruising encounter with Richard Madeley on ITV’s Good Morning Britain in April

Louis McKechnie

Has been arrested about 20 times, including when he tied himself to a goalpost during an Everton vs Newcastle Premier League match. McKechnie, 21, from Dorset, has complained it is ‘really stressful’ being arrested and dealing with an angry public. The student has been jailed for blocking the M25 as part of an Insulate Britain protest, but said his experience of prison had not deterred him and that he would be willing to spend the rest of his life behind bars for the cause. He is awaiting trial for allegedly damaging a Vincent Van Gogh painting in London, having pleaded not guilty.

Just Stop Oil protester Louis McKechnie has been arrested about 20 times inlcluding when he tied himself to a goalpost during a Premier League match (pictured)

Just Stop Oil protester Louis McKechnie has been arrested about 20 times inlcluding when he tied himself to a goalpost during a Premier League match (pictured)

Dr Larch Maxey

Real name Ian, he spent four weeks underground last year with veteran eco-warrior Swampy after protesters tunnelled under the HS2 rail site near Euston in London. He is currently in another tunnel near a fuel depot in Essex.

He told an Insulate Britain meeting last year attended by an undercover Mail on Sunday reporter that the group was recruiting working-class spokespeople in a bid to shake off its middle-class image.

In one interview, he said he had no income and described himself as a ‘relaxed freegan’ – scavaging leftover food that would otherwise go to waste.

Dr Larch Maxey (pictured), whose real name is Ian spent four weeks underground last year. He is currently in another tunnel near a fuel depot in Essex

Dr Larch Maxey (pictured), whose real name is Ian spent four weeks underground last year. He is currently in another tunnel near a fuel depot in Essex

Roger Hallam

As a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, the 56-year-old has masterminded a wave of hugely disruptive protests.

He claimed that the Met police would be ‘too scared’ to arrest activists initially, but that officers would be forced to do so as protests escalate, tying up their resources.

Co-founder of Extinction Rebellion Roger Hallam, pictured on a hunger strike in 2018, has masterminded several protests

Co-founder of Extinction Rebellion Roger Hallam, pictured on a hunger strike in 2018, has masterminded several protests

Describing himself as a ‘farmer mobiliser revolutionary’, Hallam grandly says he is following ‘in the tradition of Martin Luther King and Gandhi’. He was an organic farmer in Carmarthen for 20 years but blamed the collapse of his business on a series of extreme weather events.

Later he researched the history of civil disobedience for a PhD at King’s College London while ‘sleeping in his car’.

He was ‘unreservedly denounced’ by Extinction Rebellion in 2019 for describing the Holocaust as ‘just another f***ery in human history’.



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