Protest groups could be forced to pay compensation for disruption

Protest groups such as Just Stop Oil[1] will be forced to pay compensation to people whose lives they disrupt under plans in a Government-commissioned review. Individuals, businesses or institutions that could show they endured loss, distress or suffering from an illegal protest would be entitled to court-ordered compensation from activists[2]. The plans, understood to be supported in principle by Downing Street, are due to be announced on Tuesday as part of a review into political violence and disruption[3].

The review was carried out by Lord Walney, the independent Government adviser. The measures are designed to hold protesters to account for incidents in which ambulances are held up[4], businesses lose thousands of pounds in trade and employees are delayed getting to work. They could also apply to incidents such as students being prevented from attending lectures or being awarded their degrees, as has been seen with pro-Palestinian protests on university campuses[5].

Lord Walney's report will set out more than 40 recommendations on ways for ministers and public bodies to deal with violent and disruptive protests. The Telegraph understands that the review will recommend that Home Office and Ministry of Justice officials should be tasked to devise a legal framework to enable individuals to be compensated where they can show they have suffered loss from illegal protests. It will say that prosecutions alone have failed to deter[6] unlawful action. KUGL8QWhdv8

A Home Office source said: "If Just Stop Oil organises a major roadblock and you cannot get to work or you miss a hospital appointment, there would be a framework where you could more easily sue the organisation for the loss they have caused you.

It would be a statutory scheme but civil action. "Number 10 really sees the politics of being able to give more power to individuals to be able to do this. Every time it happens, you have intense frustration for individuals who take things into their own hands but are ultimately powerless when they cannot get to where they are going.

"People organising these blockades are not seeing sufficient deterrent from individual prosecutions. It is about how much it will be worthwhile for them to do it if these proposals are enacted." The compensation could be handed out by a system modelled on the small claims court, where judges determine payouts having assessed the evidence from individuals or businesses in legal disputes.

Another option could be similar to the financial services ombudsman, who can award compensation against banks or finance companies[7] if a mistake causes "loss, distress, inconvenience, pain and suffering or damage to a person's reputation". Scotland Yard[8] has been forced to spend GBP20 million and divert hundreds of officers from fighting crime to police protests by Just Stop Oil alone. Similar protests have been mounted by Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain, which blockaded the M25[9], other motorways and the port of Dover in 2021.

There is nothing to stop businesses or individuals suing a group, but no one is believed to have taken action because of the cost and complexity of doing so. The Department for Transport sought to use court injunctions against Insulate Britain[10], with heavy cash penalties for protesters who breached them, but that failed to stop protests by other members of the organisation or prevent other groups from mounting demonstrations. lm5HiEW5jxo

Lord Walney's review is also expected to recommend proscribing protest groups that routinely use criminal tactics to try to achieve their aims in a similar way to proscribing terrorist organisations. The new category, described as "proscription-lite"[11], could limit their ability to fundraise and their right to assembly in the UK.

The report also recommends that teachers should be given protection from claims of blasphemy[12] by religious groups. Legal guarantees upholding teachers' rights to freedom of expression would be introduced to prevent a repeat of cases such as that of the Batley grammar school teacher[13] who received death threats and is still in hiding after showing pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. The report is also expected to call for protest exclusion zones to be introduced[14] around MPs' offices, with Lord Walney set to urge Rishi Sunak to extend "buffer zone" powers that currently cover schools and abortion clinics to constituency surgeries, Parliament and council chambers.

The Home Office said it would consider the recommendations.

Lord Walney declined to comment until his report was presented to Parliament.


  1. ^ Just Stop Oil (
  2. ^ from activists (
  3. ^ political violence and disruption (
  4. ^ are held up (
  5. ^ on university campuses (
  6. ^ failed to deter (
  7. ^ against banks or finance companies (
  8. ^ Scotland Yard (
  9. ^ which blockaded the M25 (
  10. ^ Insulate Britain (
  11. ^ described as "proscription-lite" (
  12. ^ of blasphemy (
  13. ^ the Batley grammar school teacher (
  14. ^ protest exclusion zones to be introduced (