Glasgow World Championships protesters walk free from court

Sheriff says he 'understood' why the protesters glued themselves to the road during the UCI World Championships men's road race

Clock14:13, Friday 10th November 2023
Riders wait for the protesters to be removed from the course

© Sprint Cycling Agency

Riders wait for the protesters to be removed from the course

The protesters who brought the 2023 World Championships men's road race to a halt have been allowed to walk free, as the case reached its final hearing on Wednesday.

Four protesters from anti-oil group This Is Rigged faced a charge of making a breach of the peace, after gluing themselves to the course, locking themselves together, and setting off powder flares. Three of the protesters were admonished, whilst one was convicted and issued a £250 fine.

On Wednesday November 8, after three and a half hours, three of the protesters walked free, whilst one was hit with a fine, the Daily Record reports.

Falkirk Sheriff Court heard that the protesters, who hid in bushes before the Worlds peloton was due to pass, set off pink powder cannons, poured superglue on their hands, and stuck themselves to the tarmac.

As well as the superglue, two of the protesters, student Rebecca Kerr and carer Ben Taylor sat back-to-back, locked themselves together by putting a cycling D-lock round their necks, and threw the keys into the grass verge.

Meanwhile, renewable energy software developer Romane Moulin and student Catriona Roberts locked themselves together with a large bike chain.

PC Gregor Malcolm is a member of Police Scotland’s protester removal team. He was at the scene, and told the court he found the four protesters "all quite substantially glued to the road surface".

To release the group's hands from the road, the police had to use a chemical de-bonder, and the keys for the locks had to be searched for in the grass.

After hearing the evidence, Sheriff McCulloch said it was "obvious" that the protest amounted to a breach of the peace, but said he "understood" why the protesters had broken the law.

Catriona Roberts, Rebecca Kerr and Romane Moulin were allowed to walk free, whilst Ben Taylor, who the Sheriff said was becoming "a professional protester," was convicted and fined £250. The Sheriff dismissed Taylor's submission that his actions were "like the Suffragettes," who were also convicted of crimes.

The protesters, who were from the anti-oil group This Is Rigged, said they were protesting the involvement of petrochemical firms in the event, as well as the granting of new licenses for oil production in the North Sea.

They denied that they were committing a breach of the peace, with Roberts declaring: "If your house is on fire and you run into the road, rooted in fear, and you block the traffic, it is not a breach of the peace."

Ultimately, Sheriff McCulloch concluded:

“The potential for a serious disturbance is obvious. I firmly accept that all four have firmly held views and beliefs but protests must be proportionate and peaceful. This was the latter, but not the former."

But he went on: “I clearly understand why the accused acted as they did. Indeed many would think their actions to be applauded. Many would disagree and argue that such behaviour has no place in a democratic society.

"Miss Roberts, Miss Moulin and Miss Kerr - you are all admonished, as you are first offenders and I understand why you did what you did, although in my view it broke the law."

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