A man has blasted Just Stop Oil zealots whose stunt on Britain’s busiest motorway this week caused him to miss his father’s funeral.
Tony Bambury was travelling with his family to the funeral just off the A13 near Pitsea from his home in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire on Monday when he discovered that the eco-mob had blocked parts of the M25 in protest – hugely disrupting his journey.
He was forced to divert off the motorway towards St Albans to find an alternative route to Essex, but got caught up in long queues of traffic.
Describing the heartrending moment he had to call his grief-stricken mother that he would not be able to get to the funeral on time, Mr Bambury told ITV Meridian: ‘I called my Mum, who’s 79, and was very upset as you can imagine. My brother and his family were there, I wanted to be there, and I had a eulogy that I was going to say about my father.
‘These people have forced me not to go to my own father’s funeral by their actions and it’s not like I can get a second chance at this. I’ll never forget what they’ve done and I’ll never forgive what they have done.’
Another man missed the birth of his child this week. He said: ‘My wife gave birth yesterday afternoon, she was alone whilst I was stuck on the M25 desperately trying to reach the hospital. Unforgivable, I totally sympathise with your course but I’m disgusted with what you deem the right way to highlight it’.
How can anyone support such an inhumane organisation?
— Emily Hewertson (@emilyhewertson) November 9, 2022
On Wednesday afternoon a Just Stop Oil protester admitted that he would be ‘furious’ if he was forced to miss a funeral or appointment because of group’s road-blocking protests.
Alex de Koning said that he was sorry to members of the public who have had their lives disrupted by their protests — but added that they should question why the activists are doing this.
Speaking to GB News, Mr de Koning said: I’m really sorry to anyone who has been caught up in this and it’s terrible that this is happening.’
When pressed about the impact of the protests on Brits such as Mr Bambury, who missed his father’s funeral due to the traffic chaos, Mr de Koning added: ‘This is terrible, I’d be furious too if I was caught up in that traffic, if I missed a funeral or an appointment.
‘But the real question people have to be asking is: Why are people taking actions like this?’
The Met’s Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist branded the demo ‘criminality’ with the intention of disrupting thousands of people’s lives.
He told journalists on Monday: ‘This isn’t protest, this is criminality where people are taking extremely hazardous steps disrupting the M25.
‘This action is grossly disproportionate to any legitimate aim that this group may have. This is criminality and we’ll treat it as such.’
It comes as Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley joked today that he cannot tackle Just Stop Oil eco-zealots with snipers or ‘take off their limbs’ with angle grinders as Home Secretary Suella Braverman urged police to take a tougher stance on ‘extremist’ protesters after an officer was injured on the M25.
During a Q&A with police chiefs at a London conference, Britain’s top cop defended the response to the environ-extremists who have shut Britain’s busiest motorway for the third day running, declaring: ‘We’re going as quickly as we can.’
But Ms Braverman told the same event in Westminster this afternoon: ‘Scenes of members of the public taking the law into their own hands are a sign of a loss of confidence and I urge you all to step up to your public duties in policing protests’.
She said: ‘Thousands of police days and hours are being diverted away from combating rape and homicide and burglary to dealing with these extremists. Criminal damage, obstructing the highway, public nuisance – none of it should be humoured. It is not a human right to vandalise a work of art. It is not a civil liberty to stop ambulances getting to the sick and injured’.
And Tory MP Peter Bone told MailOnline that the police and justice system are being ‘too soft’ and officers should be ordered to use force to remove protesters – even if eco-warriors end up injured.
Defending the approach, Sir Mark Rowley has revealed that his officers had to use an angle grinder to remove a bicycle D-lock from the neck of a protester who had attached themselves to a gantry this morning. It came amid growing public anger that dozens of Just Stop Oil supporters, including a 75-year-old grandmother, have been able to climb gantries on the M25 with ease with specialist officers required to remove them.
He said: ‘We have gone as fast as we think we can do on the JSO issues. We can’t take snipers apparently to people who are climbing the gantries, when we use the angle grinders we have to apparently just take off the locks, we can’t take off the limbs at the same time. There are limits to how you can do this at speed. We are turning up at those things very quickly. We’re going as quickly as we can.’
He spoke hours after one Just Stop Oil protestor caused a lorry crash and left a police outrider hurt after going on the motorway between Junctions 26 and 27 on Wednesday morning.
On a third day of action on the M25, which appears to be its worst so far, where police failed to stop at least ten protesters causing closures at junction 4, junction 7 and 8, junctions 8 to 9, junctions 13 to 14, junction 22, junction 23 to junction 27 and junction 30 of the M25. Six junctions have now been successfully targeted each day this week, which is acutely embarrassing for the police. People caught up in the traffic missed medical appointments and one man even missed the birth of his child.
On the same stage minutes later, Home Secretary Suella Braverman took a hard line on how police should deal with protesters while speaking at a conference in Westminster.
She told delegates: ‘Although most police officers do an excellent job, sadly, in recent months and years we have seen an erosion of confidence in the police to take action against the radicals, the road-blockers, the vandals, the militants and the extremists.
‘But we have also seen the police appear to lose confidence in themselves – in yourselves, in your authority, in your power – an institutional reluctance. This must change.
‘Such disruption is a threat to our way of life. It does not ‘further a cause’. It is not ‘freedom of expression’ and I want to reassure you that you have my – and this Government’s – full backing in taking a firmer line to safeguard public order. Indeed, that is your duty.
‘Scenes of members of the public taking the law into their own hands are a sign of a loss of confidence and I urge you all to step up to your public duties in policing protests. The law-abiding patriotic majority is on your side. This is what common sense policing means.’
Tory MP Peter Bone suggested that people will already have died as a result of the chaos that being caused. ‘We’re not taking firm enough action. You can imagine that if this was in other countries they would be taking much more robust action,’ he said.
‘They must be very firm with these people and remove them. They are a risk to innocent people. There doesn’t seem to be strong enough action, either by the police in the first place or by the courts when they get there.’
The former minister said the eco-protests were causing ‘terrific anger’ among the public. ‘What they are doing serves no purpose whatsoever’, he said.