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Just Stop Oil protest posed risk of ‘serious harm’ to F1 drivers, court told

Just Stop Oil protesters arriving at Northampton Crown Court charged with conspiracy to cause public nuisance over a track protest during the Formula One British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July 2022 (Joe Giddens/PA)
Just Stop Oil protesters arriving at Northampton Crown Court charged with conspiracy to cause public nuisance over a track protest during the Formula One British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July 2022 (Joe Giddens/PA)

Just Stop Oil protestors caused “an immediate risk of serious harm” to Formula One drivers and race marshals by invading the track during last year’s British Grand Prix, prosecutors have claimed.

A jury at Northampton Crown Court was shown in-car footage of F1 stars Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon passing three men and two women who were sitting on and being dragged off Silverstone’s Wellington Straight last July.

Video recorded by Lewis Hamilton’s car passing protesters shortly before the track invasion was also shown during the Crown’s opening speech – along with video statements issued by five of six defendants who are on trial.

Grand Prix track invasion court case
Just Stop Oil supporters outside Northampton Crown Court, where six protesters are on trial over a track invasion during last year’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone (Joe Giddens/PA)

David Baldwin, 47, Emily Brocklebank, 24, Alasdair Gibson, 22, Louis McKechnie, 22, Bethany Mogie, 40, and 29-year-old Joshua Smith all deny causing a public nuisance at the Northamptonshire circuit in July last year.

Brocklebank, of Yeadon, Leeds; Gibson, from Aberdeen; Mogie, from St Albans; McKechnie, from Manchester; and Smith, from Lees in Oldham, went on to the race circuit during the protest.

Baldwin, of Stonesfield, Oxfordshire, was found in a car park along with glue, cable ties and a Just Stop Oil banner and is said by the Crown to have been “in it together” with his co-defendants.

Opening the prosecution case on Wednesday, prosecutor Simon Jones told the court: “This case concerns the actions of six Just Stop Oil protesters.

“The prosecution say that these defendants committed a criminal act of public nuisance.

“As events unfolded, the F1 Grand Prix had started and it was under a red flag after a serious accident had occurred at the very start.

“Each of these defendants were present at Silverstone and they were intent on causing a disruption to the race.

“It is not in dispute that five of the defendants in this case – all of them save for David Baldwin – made it on to the racetrack and they did not have permission to be there.

“There is no dispute as to that, and they sat down in front of the ongoing cars – Formula One motor racing cars.

“They will inevitably say that this was done as an act of protest and in order to bring publicity to the cause and demand they make – of no new oil and gas licences.”

Video footage from various camera angles covering Silverstone was played to the jury, as well as personal video statements from five of the defendants recorded a day before the protest, including a claim that the world is “being destroyed for the benefit of a few people”.

Before the video compilation was played to the court, Mr Jones told the jury of seven women and five men: “You will see the moment they got on the track, having initially waited for most of the vehicles to pass.

“You will then see two Formula One racing cars driving past the protesters… while five of the defendants were on the track.

“You will see marshals having to run on to the track and drag the protesters off to the side.

“The prosecution say that there was clearly an immediate risk of serious harm being caused. Plainly they could have been struck by fast-moving vehicles with obvious severe consequences.

“We say that that their actions also caused risk to the drivers themselves and the marshals.”

The trial continues.