Supreme Court judges were last night blamed for giving the green light to eco-zealots to cause mayhem on Britain’s roads.
The Mail on Sunday understands that activists from Just Stop Oil are exploiting an extraordinary legal ruling made by the country’s most senior judges more than a year ago that protests can be a ‘lawful excuse’ to block roads.
The ruling followed the prosecution of four anti-arms trade protesters who blocked a road leading to the ExCel Centre while it hosted an arms fair in September 2017.
In June 2021 the Supreme Court, established by Tony Blair’s Labour government, reversed a High Court decision and overturned the protesters’ convictions.
It ruled that protesters can have a ‘lawful excuse’ defence under the European Convention of Human Rights against the offence of obstructing a highway, even where they have used ‘deliberately physically obstructive conduct.’
The so-called ‘Ziegler’ ruling, named after Nora Ziegler, one of the protesters, was hailed at the time by campaign group Extinction Rebellion.
It is understood that protesters are briefed about the ruling before they block motorways and trunk roads in a bid to cause traffic chaos.
But speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader said: ‘Clearly it’s an absurd judgment.
‘They have a right to protest but they don’t have a right to cause such chaos that people are hurt and can’t get to hospitals. Whose rights are more important? The right of a protester or the right of somebody to go about their business?
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