Jailed Insulate Britain activist moved to hospital amid hunger strikeNovember 29, 2021
Jailed Insulate Britain activist is moved from prison cell to hospital wing after 13 days of hunger strike as staff grow ‘increasingly concerned about her health’
- Emma Smart, 44, was jailed for part in Insulate Britain’s M25-blocking protests
- Smart has been on hunger strike since moving to HMP Bronzefield 13 days ago
- Insulate Britain say she has been moved to hospital wing over health concerns
A jailed Insulate Britain activist on hunger strike while in prison has been moved from her cell to a hospital wing, say fellow group members.
The eco-activists say prison staff at HMP Bronzefield, Surrey, have become ‘increasingly concerned’ about the health of Emma Smart.
The 44-year-old, a biologist from Weymouth, has been on hunger strike for the past 13 days since being jailed for her part in Insulate Britain’s road-blocking protests.
Today the group said in a post on Twitter: ‘Emma, who has today been in prison on hunger strike for 13 days, was moved out of her cell onto the hospital wing at HMP Bronzefield on Friday.
‘The prison is becoming increasingly concerned about her health.’
A spokesman for Insulate Britain told MailOnline that Smart was not in a critical condition.
‘She’s been moved to the hospital wing because she’s going through some stuff,’ the spokesperson said.
‘She’s bearing up. She’s not in a critical condition.’
Jailed Insulate Britain activist Emma Smart (pictured), who is on hunger strike while in prison, has been taken to hospital, the group say
Smart, 44, has been on hunger strike for 13 days since being jailed for her parts in Insulate Britain’s disruptive road-blocking protests
Smart was imprisoned with eight other people from Insulate Britain (pictured: An Insulate Britain protest) who were given sentences of between three and six months and were each ordered to pay costs of £5,000
It comes as the group today released a statement on behalf of the jailed eco-activist.
What is HMP Bronzefield like?
The women jailed over the Insulate Britain protests will be sent to HMP Bronzefield in Ashford, Surrey (file picture)
HMP Bronzefield in Ashford, Surrey, was Britain’s first purpose-built prison for women when it opened in 2004. Up to 572 women inmates can be held at the Category A jail across four houseblocks which can hold about 130 people in each one.
Each wing has a servery unit for women to collect their food, which they can either eat together on the wing or take it back to their rooms. Telephones are also provided in each room. It has a 17-bed healthcare facility, and a mother and baby unit for 12 women and 13 babies up to the age of 18 months.
When a woman arrives at the prison they are searched and their welfare assessed by a doctor and nurse. They also receive a meal and drink, before beginning an induction process the following day. Notable former inmates include murderer Rose West, child abuser Vanessa George and the Labour MP Fiona Onasanya.
A study in July 2016 by HM Inspectorate of Prisons found prisoners were normally offered about five options for lunch and the same for dinner. A typical prison lunch consisted of a sandwich, wrap or portion of pasta, served with a piece of fruit or crisps and biscuits. Typical dinners included a choice of curry, pie, baked fish or casserole, accompanied by rice, vegetables, potatoes, and a choice of dessert or fruit such as apples and oranges.
The most recent report of Bronzefield by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons in 2018 said many inmates were facing ‘significant mental health problems’, ‘self-harm among prisoners remained high’ and ‘violent incidents had increased significantly over the previous four years’ – but concluded that it was an ‘overwhelmingly safe prison’.
But another report released two months ago found an 18-year-old inmate who lost her baby at the jail in 2019 should never have given birth alone in her cell. The probe found the mother, known as Ms A, pressed her cell bell twice and asked for a nurse but nobody came. One hour later a prison officer shone a torch into her cell but said there was nothing out of the ordinary. But the inmate said she was on all fours at the time and described being in constant pain, before passing out then awaking to find her daughter had been born but was not breathing.
Speaking from prison, she said: ‘The window of my cell in the hospital wing is blocked up and there is little natural light, in my previous cell I could see the birds and trees that line the prison fence.
‘I have less time to go outside in the prison yard for exercise now.
‘All of this is testing my resolve to continue, but I feel that not eating is the only thing I can do from prison to draw attention to those who will have to make the choice between heating and eating this winter.
‘Not standing by while our government commits treason against the people of this country feels like the most important thing I will do in my life.’
Smart was imprisoned along with eight other Insulate Britain activists who were given sentences of between three and six months after breaching an injunction designed to stop the group’s road-blocking protests.
They were also each ordered to pay costs of £5,000. The court ordered that the jailed activists should serve at least half their sentences.
A further group of nine people from Insulate Britain have been summoned to appear at the High Court next month to face a charge of contempt of court.
If found guilty, they could be subject to unlimited fines, seizure of assets and prison sentences of up to two years.
Smart, who was jailed earlier this month, was sent to HMP Bronzefield in Ashford, Surrey.
It was Britain’s first purpose-built prison for women when it opened in 2004.
Up to 572 women inmates can be held at the Category A jail across four houseblocks which can hold about 130 people in each one.
Each wing has a servery unit for women to collect their food, which they can either eat together on the wing or take it back to their rooms.
Telephones are also provided in each room. It has a 17-bed healthcare facility, and a mother and baby unit for 12 women and 13 babies up to the age of 18 months.
Bronzefield is a privately run prison, operated by the firm Sodexo, who have been approached for comment.
The Ministry of Justice told MailOnline to contact Sodexo for comment.
It comes as Smart’s sister, Clare, took to Twitter on Friday to raise concern about her sibling.
She said: ‘Emma is always so strong yet today she was tearful when she phoned. It is really tough to hear her sounding sad.
‘The frustrating delays of not getting any of her belongings; her books, clothes, even her glasses for her to be able to comfortably read the emails that have been printed out.
‘Each day she is told that it will happen and each day passes without it.’
Clare added that her sister wants her voice to be heard and the reasons for her hunger strike to be ‘shouted out loud.’
She said: ‘For those that are able to act in solidarity to do so. To not be forgotten about.
‘To feel that she is continuing to act and to do everything that she can even from inside a prison cell.’
Smart was arrested on October 8 along with eight other Insulate Britain activists after four injunctions were granted by the High Court to National Highways in September.
The eco-activists say prison staff at HMP Bronzefield (pictured), Surrey, have become ‘increasingly concerned’ about the health of one of its members, Emma Smart
Emma Smart, from Weymouth, announced via an Insulate Britain spokesman that she would be going on hunger strike
Smart (pictured here with husband Andy Smith) was sent to HMP Bronzefield in Ashford, Surrey, which was Britain’s first purpose-built prison for women when it opened in 2004
The couple broke their global trip into four phases and the first leg of their trip saw them to, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden. Pictured: Smart’s full trip from 2012 to 2016
These banned protests on the M25, around the Port of Dover and on major roads around London.
A fifth injunction was granted to Transport For London on October 8.
Speaking from prison last week, she said in a statement via Insulate Britain: ‘Imprisoning all those who disagree with you is the mark of a bully and we all know that at heart, bullies are cowards.
‘So to the government we say carry on, bring down the combined might of your best lawyers and all the vast machinery of the state. We will not be cowed.
‘Our numbers are growing because the general public knows we are on the right side of history.’
In a video shared by Insulate Britain online last week, a short recording of Emma, believed to have been taken before she was sent to prison, can be seen in which she defends her actions and called for more civil disobedience.
Emma Smart told the court that the proceedings were ‘obscene’ and glowered at barristers representing National Highways. However, the biologist has faced allegations of hypocrisy after undertaking a gas-guzzling 81,000-mile drive across the globe with her husband Andy Smith. Above: The couple are pictured with their diesel-fuelled Toyota before the trip in 2012
Insulate Britain eco mob’s Emma Smart, 44 previously urged more eco-zealots to step up and continue the group’s extreme campaign this week
Smart, an ecologist by trade, said: ‘It was quite an extreme campaign, you know, going onto the motorway but we’re in an extreme situation and I felt I had to do what was necessary.
‘I stepped up, we all need to step up. Non-violent civil disobedience is the only way we’re going to enact change.
‘We don’t need nine of us, or 20 of us in prison, we all need to put our liberty on the line because we are facing losing everything.’
In the clip shared to Twitter, Smart explains her actions leading up to taking part in the mob’s motorway protests earlier this year.
Speaking with a row of fence panels behind her, she said: ‘I don’t know what more I can do and then IB [Insulate Britain] came along and yes, this was a way I could step up.
‘It was quite an extreme campaign, you know, going onto the motorway but we’re in an extreme situation and I felt I had to do what was necessary.
Insulate Britain protesters (back row left to right) Tim Speers, Roman Paluch, Emma Smart, Ben Taylor, James Thomas, (front row left to right) Louis McKechnie, Ana Heyatawin and Oliver Roc pose for a photograph ahead of their High Court hearing
Nine Insulate Britain eco zealots were jailed at the High Court after admitting breaching an injunction on protesting
‘So I feel this is the moment. Our government could have accepted and acted or done something meaningful in relation to our demands.
‘But they chose to imprison us and really that has got to send a strong message to everyone. Now is the time. We need to come together, whatever we’re doing is not enough.
‘I stepped up, we all need to step up. Non-violent civil disobedience is the only way we’re going to enact change.
‘We don’t need nine of us, or 20 of us in prison, we all need to put our liberty on the line because we are facing losing everything.
‘Our life support systems are collapsing, society is going to collapse. Be part of that change while you have the chance.’
During her sentencing, Emma told the court that the proceedings were ‘obscene’ and glowered at barristers representing National Highways.
However, the biologist has faced allegations of hypocrisy after undertaking a gas-guzzling 81,000-mile drive across the globe with her husband Andy Smith.
Who are the Insulate Britain nine and how long were they jailed for?
FOUL-MOUTHED RANTER – Ben Taylor: 6 months
Defiant Taylor, 27, was handed the longest sentence for what judges called an ‘inflammatory’ call to arms, in which he told the court that the government must ‘f****ing act’ on the group’s demands. He also boasted that he would immediately go out and block another road if he was not jailed.. The court therefore extended his detention ‘to deter Mr Taylor from committing further breaches’.
DEVOUT CHRISTIAN – Dr Benjamin Buse: 4 months
The meek University of Bristol researcher, 36, was the only defendant to have a barrister representing his interests. The court was told that Dr Buse, who has published on topics like ‘microanalysis of Uranium’, was a devout Christian and popular member of his local church in Cheddar. Barrister Owen Greenhall said he volunteered for charity and donated hundreds of pounds to good causes every month.
THE REBEL SCARED OF JAIL – Oliver Rock: 4 months
The 41-year-old carpenter from south London, admitted he was ‘c**pping himself’ about going to jail and enjoyed drawn-out cinches with his partner before the final hearing began. He said that after feeling ‘depressed’ that the 2003 Iraq War march had failed, he was inspired to take up more extreme tactics, in collaboration with Extinction Rebellion, which he joined in 2019. He told the court he only earned about £10,000 a year, often making ‘small stage sets’.
HUNGER STRIKER – Emma Smart: 4 months
The 44-year-old, from Weymouth, announced via an Insulate Britain spokesman that she would be going on hunger strike. She told the court that the proceedings were ‘obscene’ and glowered at barristers representing National Highways. But Smart, a biologist, has previously been criticised for undertaking a gas-guzzling 81,000-mile drive across the globe with her partner, Andy.
STUDENT AGED ONLY 21 – Louis McKechnie: 3 months
The student from Weymouth, who turned 21 yesterday, was given a month off his sentence in recognition of his youth. He said his only income was his student loan, which all went on living expenses, so he would struggle to pay his share of the bill in paying the government’s legal costs.
THE OLDEST DEFENDANT – Ana Heyatawin: 3 months
The oldest of the defendants, the blue-haired 58-year-old from Wells, had her sentence reduced to three months, after she told the court about her litany of health issues, including a personality disorder, depression, sciatica and bad eyesight.
‘ENLIGHTENED CAPITALIST’ – James Thomas: 4 months
The 47-year-old architect said he had previously regarded himself as an ‘enlightened capitalist sort of guy’, but was inspired to abandon his career and join protest movements after seeing a film about the successes won by the Suffragettes and their campaign of direct action. He said that the ‘scariest part’ of his time inside would be the impact on his relationship.
INSPIRED BY GRANDPARENTS – Roman Paluch-Machnik: 4 months
The 28-year-old from Ealing said that learning about the experiences of his grandparents, all four of whom escaped Poland during the war, had helped inspire his activism. An active member of Extinction Rebellion since 2018, he has travelled the country giving talks on climate change and training others how to participate in ‘Non-Violent Direct Action’.
‘SANE IN AN INSANE WORLD’ – Tim Speers: 4 months
The 36-year-old, from east London, pontificated in court, ‘in an insane world, the sane will be seen as insane’. He believes that Insulate Britain has led ‘one of the most successful campaigns in history’. He was first arrested on Waterloo Bridge in 2019 at an Extinction Rebellion protest, commenting: ‘I refuse sit back while greed and ignorance takes life to extinction.’
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