Soft policing and lenient judges only encourage extremists

LEO MCKINSTRY: Soft policing and lenient judges only encourage extremists… The plot to wreck the Grand National is a graphic indication of the arrogance of the animal rights zealots



The plot to wreck the Grand National is a graphic indication of the arrogance and extremism of the animal rights zealots.

Fixated by the virtue of their causes, intoxicated by public attention, these vegan hardliners show contempt for the law, for the economic interests of Britain, the entertainment of the public and the UK’s sporting heritage.

Had Animal Rebellion succeeded, it would have been a national humiliation, given that this special race is watched by a global audience of over 600 million.

Moreover the protesters would have put the lives of animals and humans at risk through their planned blockade of the course – something of a paradox for supposed animal welfare activists.

Reassuringly, Merseyside Police insist they will be ‘robust’ with the troublemakers whose details were handed over to them by The Mail on Sunday after its investigation. Which is vital to deter future protests of this kind.

READ MORE: Unrepentant eco-fanatics double down on plot to sabotage the Grand National 

But it is impossible to ignore the fact that the authorities have been the very opposite of robust in the past when dealing with similar protests. And that hardly inspires confidence.

When Just Stop Oil protesters invaded the track at last year’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, they posed a major risk to themselves, to drivers and marshals. Yet the reaction of the judiciary could not have been more feeble.

At Northampton Crown Court on Friday, all six of the Just Stop Oil protesters were spared jail and instead received suspended terms or community orders. 

That will do nothing to teach them a lesson – indeed, two have already acquired notoriety for gluing themselves to a Van Gogh painting in the National Gallery.

And the leniency of the court was reflected in the words of the judge, who came close to expressing political sympathy for the protesters, saying he accepted ‘the motive for all of you was not to cause harm but to voice your concerns about climate change’. 

Why on earth should the politics behind these criminal protests have a bearing on the punishment? Justice is meant to be impartial and blind. The trouble is that the police and justice system has become hopelessly infected with fashionable dogma.

This was highlighted in the recent declaration by a self-important group of 120 barristers – who grandly call themselves ‘Lawyers are Responsible’ – saying their consciences cannot allow them to prosecute protesters from eco-groups such as Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion.

Among these bewigged virtue-signallers are Jolyon Maugham, founder of the Good Law Project, and Sir Geoffrey Bindman, chairman of the British Institute of Human Rights. 

In their eyes, presumably, activists who block the M25, condemning thousands of motorists to spend hours in traffic jams or to miss flights, doctors’ appointments and business meetings, should get off scot free.

And I haven’t even mentioned ambulances unable to reach hospitals.

Meanwhile, a senior police inspector told demonstrators blocking the motorway that ‘if any of you are in any discomfort or need anything just let me know and we will try to sort it out in a nice way’.

That is the very opposite of the tough approach needed – and, for the sake of justice, Merseyside Police must stay true to their word.

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