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HomeNewsJust Stop Oil documentary teaser reveals journalist arrests near M25

Just Stop Oil documentary teaser reveals journalist arrests near M25

Clips of journalist arrests near the M25 feature in a filmmaker’s Just Stop Oil documentary teaser.

Police officers in Hertfordshire arrested Rich Felgate in November 2022, when he was filming motorway protests from a nearby bridge.

The “activist turned filmmaker” has released a first look at his new documentary called Everything is Fine. The film promises a “behind the scenes” look at the Just Stop Oil protests, which began two years ago in spring 2022.

Later the same year, protesters held demonstrations on the London Orbital motorway in Hertfordshire, bringing drivers to a halt. Group members threw soup over Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery – which also features in the documentary.

Mr Felgate’s previous film Finite – which also looks at climate protests – won awards at the North East International Film Festival in England and the Green Screen Festival in Germany.

Just Stop Oil brands itself as a “nonviolent civil resistance group” that wants the government to stop licensing new oil, gas and coal projects.

It has attracted criticism from members of parliament, including the Conservatives’ Gareth Johnson who branded the group a “criminal organisation” in the House of Commons and Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper who previously told Good Morning Britain the group’s members were “totally irresponsible”.

Some previous donors including green energy entrepreneur Dale Vince and US businessman Trevor Neilson have walked away from the group, labelling its tactics “counterproductive”.

In a video plea for funding to complete the Everything is Fine project, Mr Felgate said: “Everything is on the line, so how far will ordinary people go to stop the expansion of fossil fuels, and how far will our government go to stop them.

“I’ve been filming activists in Just Stop Oil since their very first protest.

“As an activist turned filmmaker, I’m able to give a much-needed insider’s perspective and reveal the truth behind these so-called eco zealots.

“The chances are you’ve probably already seen some of my footage go viral but this film is the crucial, unseen human story of the people behind the headlines.”

The director added: “We have to tell this story ourselves.”

He said he has launched a fundraiser to “complete the editing process” after facing costs which the project team cannot absorb.

During filming, Hertfordshire Constabulary arrested four people who identified themselves as being members of the press, including Mr Felgate and LBC reporter Charlotte Lynch at another location near the M25 in Hertfordshire.

Police officers cannot demand journalists stop filming or photographing incidents in a public place, according to College of Policing guidelines.

One journalist was held in custody for almost 15 hours.

A probe by Cambridgeshire’s police chief found the force had potentially made an “unlawful interference” into journalists’ freedom to report on Just Stop Oil protests.

It found two of the four arresting officers had not completed their required training and recommended changes to the way officers keep decision logs and access Public Order Safety advice.

Chief Constable Charlie Hall apologised for the incident. Peers debated the incident in the House of Lords.

Former Express editor Baroness Boycott, a crossbencher, said: “I cannot believe, as a former newspaper editor, that I would now have to think that it might be more dangerous to send a journalist to Trafalgar Square than to Tahrir Square (Cairo).”

She quoted from a news report published in November 2022, which referenced the arrest of BBC journalist Ed Lawrence in Shanghai, China.

Baroness Boycott said: “I substitute ‘Charlotte Lynch’ for ‘Ed Lawrence’, ‘the M25 in Hertfordshire’ for ‘Shanghai’, and ‘LBC’ for ‘BBC’ – and another world.

“Charlotte, like Ed Lawrence, was handcuffed for doing her job. She was held in a cell with a bucket for a toilet for five hours.

“She was fingerprinted and her DNA was taken, and she was not allowed to speak to anyone.

“Her arrest took place just two weeks before Ed Lawrence’s.

“Is this the kind of world we want to live in?”

The Public Order Act 2023, which peers were debating, features a clause which prevents police from arresting journalists who are “observing or reporting on a protest”.

The same act, passed in May last year, outlaws “locking on” to another person, object or land in a way which causes “serious disruption”.

Everything is Fine follows several Just Stop Oil protesters, including Reverend Mark Coleman.

The retired vicar told Mr Felgate: “It feels really good to be resisting this business-as-usual model of ‘everything is fine’ because it’s not.”

Reverend Coleman landed in HMP Thameside, near Greenwich, after he blocked part of the A10 at Bishopsgate during the 2021 Insulate Britain protests.

It also follows activist Jane Touil who was arrested after scaling an M25 gantry in 2022.

The then-56-year-old from Rochdale is videoed saying: “It’s not like I can say, ‘my husband’s upset, I can walk away from this now’.

“I am morally compelled to do what I am doing.”

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