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Just Stop Oil didn't delay us getting to M20 crash, says ambulance service

Exclusive: Ambulance service says claims in The Sun and the Daily Mail that protesters slowed paramedics were wrong

Adam Bychawski
25 October 2022, 1.06pm

Just Stop Oil scaled the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, closing it down for two days

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PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Right-wing papers were wrong to claim climate activists on the Dartford Crossing delayed paramedics responding to a fatal crash, the ambulance service has said.

The Sun and the Daily Mail accused two Just Stop Oil protesters who shut down the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge for two days from Monday 17 October of preventing ambulances from quickly responding to an incident on the M20 in which two women died.

Both papers reported that disruption caused by the protest meant ambulances were delayed in arriving at the scene.

But that claim has now been rubbished by the South East Coast Ambulance Service.

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The ambulance service told openDemocracy its crew was not delayed and arrived at the crash – which was more than 10 miles from the protest – “well before” the 40 minutes reported by the papers. A spokesperson pointed out that an air ambulance also attended the scene – a detail the paper did not mention in its report.

A spokesperson for Just Stop Oil told openDemocracy: “This is a tragic situation and our sympathies are with those who have lost their loved ones and the man who was injured.

“The truth is our roads are dangerous places, over 27,000 people were killed or seriously injured on the roads last year. That’s four people a day, every day, killed by speeding and inattentive drivers.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further on the details of the M20 accident while a police investigation is ongoing.”

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The two protesters, Morgan Trowland, 39, and Marcus Decker, 33, were charged with conspiracy to commit a public nuisance last week after they scaled the bridge, which connects Kent and Essex, and refused to come down for two days.

At the time, Trowland, a bridge design engineer from London, said in a statement released by Just Stop Oil: “Our government has enacted suicidal laws to accelerate oil production: killing human life and destroying our environment.

“I can’t challenge this madness in my desk job, designing bridges, so I’m taking direct action, occupying the QE2 bridge until the government stops all new oil.”

Last week, former home secretary Suella Braverman branded protesters from Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil “thugs and vandals” and pledged to use a new anti-protest bill to crack down on the groups.

The Public Order Bill, which has been criticised as “draconian” by civil rights groups, would introduce 51-week sentences for ‘lock on’ protests – in which activists attach themselves to immovable objects or each other using chains, locks, glue or other equipment – and introduce new offences for interfering with key national infrastructure.

The Public Order Bill, which has been criticised as ‘draconian’, would introduce 51-week sentences for ‘lock on’ protests

On Monday, Labour leader Keir Starmer said his party would go even further than the legislation proposed by the government by backing stiffer sentences for protesters that obstruct roads.

“What we were pushing for in that was longer sentences for those who were glueing themselves to roads and motorways, because that’s where you are putting lives at risk. We didn’t get that through, but that’s what I wanted,” he said during a phone-in discussion with Nick Ferrari on LBC radio station.

Starmer added that a Labour government would not issue any new oil and gas licences, a key demand of Just Stop Oil, but said the group’s actions were “wrong and arrogant”.

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