Just Stop Oil donor says eco-mob will continue to disrupt major events


A donor backing Just Stop Oil has said the eco-mob will continue to disrupt "high-profile" events that are on their "target list".

Multi-millionaire Dale Vince, the founder of energy firm Ecotricity, says the protesters will continue to disrupt major events to grab headlines.

He claims the most "effective protest is a disruptive one" and believes a "few minutes delay at a sporting event really is nothing" compared to the impact of climate change.

Vince was writing in the Guardian ahead of Wimbledon, where protesters stormed Court 18 twice in a matter of hours. The Silverstone Grand Prix is also set to take place this weekend.

Earlier this week, Stuart Pringle, managing director of Silverstone, said there is a "high likelihood of serious injury or death" should protesters interupt the Formula One this weekend. According to the Daily Mail, he urged people "not to be so stupid".

Vince explained the group does not target events based on their environmental credentials. Instead, they aim to look at "how much disruption we could cause" and how to "grab headlines".

He did however recognise people may be more sympathetic with Just Stop Oil's views as opposed to their method. Vince claims it is though more effective than waving placards.

He told BBC’s Question Time programme: “If you look at Wimbledon yesterday, rain stopped play more than the protesters did.

“The protest is vital.”

He added: “If you look at what’s happening in the climate crisis, we are creating more rain, more events of rain and intense rain, so this is the climate coming home to roost in sporting events.”

Asked if he supports the protests, Mr Vince said: “There is a greater harm going on in the world.”

The incidents at the All England Club followed a string of protests at high-profile sporting events including the Lord’s Ashes test – where one pitch invader was carried off the playing field by England player Jonny Bairstow.

Following the protests, policing minister Chris Philp backed spectators acting to “protect the event they’re watching”.

Mr Philp backed fans getting involved if their events are targeted. Asked if he would “do a Bairstow”, he told Times Radio: “I think it’s reasonable for people to try and protect the event they’re watching. Obviously, nobody should do anything dangerous or hurt anyone.”

But he said they should not go as far as Bairstow by manhandling protesters. “I think there are marshals and there are stewards whose job it is to do that and of course the police are there as well,” he said.

Philip said ministers “strongly encourage” the use of the courts to seek orders banning particular actions during sporting events.

“At the meeting yesterday we had with sporting leaders, we encouraged the use of injunctions because that allows for a much more severe criminal penalty if the injunction gets breached,” he said.

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