Just Stop Oil Silverstone Grand Prix protest put F1 drivers at 'immediate risk'

Six protesters plead not guilty to causing a public nuisance

Just Stop Oil protesters, who stormed the F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone, arrive at Northampton Crown Court. Photo: PA
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Formula One drivers were put at “immediate risk of serious harm” from a Just Stop Oil protest during the Silverstone British Grand Prix, a court was told on Wednesday.

Video recorded by Lewis Hamilton’s car passing the environmental activist group's protesters shortly before the track invasion was shown at Northampton Crown Court.

In-car footage from F1 racers Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon was seen by the jury, showing three men and two women who were sitting and then being dragged off Silverstone’s Wellington Straight.

Safety marshals were also endangered by the protest during the July 2021 British Grand Prix, prosecutor Simon Jones said.

The activists 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.

“You will see the moment they got on the track, having initially waited for most of the vehicles to pass,” Mr Jones said.

Louis Mckechnie, an activist from the protest group 'Just Stop Oil. AFP

“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.

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

Joshua Smith arrives at Northampton Crown Court. PA

Video statements issued by five of six defendants were also played to the jury.

All the defendants had stormed the race circuit during the protest. Baldwin was found in a car park along with glue, cable ties and a Just Stop Oil banner and is said by the Crown Court to have been “in it together” with his co-defendants.

“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,” Mr Jones said.

“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 racing cars — Formula One motor racing cars.

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

The trial continues.

Updated: January 25, 2023, 3:01 PM