Just Stop Oil grandmother, 76, tells judge why she got on the M25

A 76-year-old grandmother has told a High Court judge why she climbed a motorway bridge to join a Just Stop Oil protest.

Retired teacher Gaie Delap, from Bristol, said the “climate emergency” was not being taken seriously enough and told Mr Justice Soole on Tuesday her “heart breaks” for the future of “my six grandchildren”.

Mother-of-two Ms Delap said she had been trained in climbing by a Just Stop Oil “mentor” before taking part in the protest on the M25 last November.

She said a police officer greeted her with “some surprise” after she was called to face the protest and climbed onto the bridge.

Ms Delap is one of 12 Stop Oil protesters accused of breaching a court order aimed at restricting the protest on the M25 and causing disturbance.

Why did I do it? My heart breaks for the future of my six grandchildren and all future generations

Gay Delap

Mr Justice Soole is overseeing a hearing at the High Court in London, which is expected to conclude later this week.

Lawyers representing National Highways say the protesters have caused “significant delays” and are in contempt of court.

Ms Delap said she did not know there was an insurance order and apologized – so did other defendants.

He told the judge he had joined the protest after Just Stop Oil called for volunteers.

“I heard a Just Stop Oil Zoom call for climbers to volunteer,” he said.

“I thought, ‘well, I'm 76, I've never had climbing experience.'

“I didn't think I should volunteer for this. But it went into my mind and stayed there.

“I then followed that up with an inquiry into how I could get involved.”

Ms Delap, who said protesters had gone to a “safe house” the night before the protest, said she had climbed a ladder and sat on the skeleton.

He said a police officer arrived after “a long time”.

“A policeman came up and said ‘are you alone?' – with some surprise,” he said.

“I told him I was perfectly safe – I was attached to the frame with a carabiner.”

Mrs Delap added: ‘Why did I do it?

“My heart breaks for the future of my six grandchildren and all future generations.”

He told the judge that Just Stop Oil wanted the government to “stop new oil and gas” and continued: “The climate emergency is a serious issue and it has not been taken seriously enough.”

Ms Delap estimated, after the hearing, that the bridge was about five meters – more than 16ft – high and said she had been on it for several hours.

Paul Sousek, 72, Theresa Norton, 65, and Paul Bleach, 56, are also in the lawsuit.

Other protesters charged with contempt at the hearing at the Crown Court in London are: Charlotte Kirin, 54; Daniel Johnson, 25; Joseph Linhart, 22; Luke Elson, 30; Mair Bain, 36; Paul Bell, 23; Rosemary Jackson, 25; and Theresa Higginson, 25.

:: Just Stop Oil said protesters had staged a demonstration at law firm DLA Piper. A spokeswoman said the company was “responsible” for the Highway Safety lawsuits. He said three Just Stop Oil supporters had displayed banners and “deposited a large volume of legal documents” on the floor.