Jail for M1 closure protester


A man has been jailed for two years for staging a protest that closed the M1 in Leicestershire for 28 hours.

Nicholas Muton, of no fixed address, climbed onto a gantry on the motorway between junctions 23 and 22, near to Copt Oak in North West Leicestershire on 8 June this year. Police attempted to persuade him to come down from the gantry but were met with refusal and at times verbal abuse. At one point he threw items off the gantry, including a tape from a police interview for a previous offence.

This was the second time he had acted in this way, having been convicted in 2003 for a protest that closed the motorway for eight hours.

The police and highway authorities had no option but to close the southbound carriageway of the motorway to ensure safety. While Muton was on the gantry, queues built up and diversions were set up on roads that were not built to withstand the level of traffic that use the motorway.

Muton pleaded guilty to causing a public nuisance and was sentenced at Leicester Crown Court.

Angela Clark, District Crown Prosecutor at CPS East Midlands said: "Nicholas Muton set out to cause the maximum disruption possible. The delays caused by his actions had an immediate impact on traffic using the motorway and quickly had a knock on effect on the surrounding road networks, including a Monday morning rush hour.

"Muton's selfish actions caused major delays to travellers and cost the local economy millions of pounds, both directly in the cost of policing his actions and managing the traffic and indirectly in the costs incurred by the traffic delays.

"As well as the financial cost, there was widespread inconvenience and distress caused to tens of thousands of people. As well as affecting the regular users of the road, there were also thousands of people due to leave Donington Park from the Download festival at that point. People reported missing flights at the nearby East Midlands Airport, vehicle breakdowns and some accidents resulting from over-crowded roads."