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Insulate Britain protester Biff Whipster from Canterbury facing jail for contempt of court

Insulate Britain protester Biff Whipster faces the very real prospect of being sent to prison this month for his part in blocking motorways and bridges.

But as his date with destiny in front of a High Court judge looms, he remains adamant his actions on M25 slip roads and London bridges were justified in the face of a climate catastrophe.

Biff Whipster talking about why he became an Insulate Britain protester

The 54-year-old dad from Canterbury has been arrested 17 times in two months, making him one of the movement’s most prolific ‘offenders’.

Now he stands held in contempt of court for breaching injunctions, and says he is expecting a sentence of about six months when he admits the offences on December 14.32w

“Of course, the thought of prison frightens the life out of me, but I can’t stand by and do nothing when we are at code red for our climate,” he says.

The former Post Office business analyst, who gave up the corporate world to lead a “simpler more sustainable life”, now manages on a meagre £700 a month, with £10 a week for “impulse purchases”.

“I’ve worked making and selling garden ornaments, and more recently in retail for B&Q, but lost my job after my arrests,” he said.

It is hard to accuse Mr Whipster of hypocrisy given his frugal existence.

Biff Whipster at one of the road protests
Biff Whipster at one of the road protests

“My boiler broke down 13 years ago and I haven’t had running hot water since,” he says.

“But you learn to get by, and it’s reduced my own carbon footprint.”

Mr Whipster says he has also insulated his semi-detached home in Sturry “by as much as I can afford”.

Although he still owns a small petrol car, he largely walks, cycles or takes the bus, which is how he arrives in Canterbury where we meet in a cafe to talk about his protests and looming court date.

I order a latte but he sips tap water, because today he isn’t eating in solidarity with another protester who is currently on hunger strike in jail.

“Insulate Britain ticked a box for me because it is backed by a very sound business case and is the most financially rewarding thing the government could do,” he says.

Biff glued himself to the tarmac during one protest
Biff glued himself to the tarmac during one protest
Biff Whipster's hands after gluing himself to the road
Biff Whipster's hands after gluing himself to the road

“I know we have upset a lot of people and we’ve suffered a lot of hate as a result. Of course, it has troubled me because I’m just a regular person and have had to do a lot of soul-searching about it.

“But what else can we do to make this government sit up and take notice? Direct, non-violent action is our only option to try and get through to ministers.”

Mr Whipster was first arrested during a cycle protest rally on Lambeth Bridge in September last year.

And he is one of those who also glued himself to the road and railings, the evidence of which he still bears in scars on his hands.

He has been manhandled out the way of the road on numerous occasions over the last couple of months, but claims many drivers are sympathetic with Insulate Britain’s cause.

“Even some police officers have quietly told us off camera that they understand why we are doing it,” he said.

Mr Whipster also claims that no one has been put at risk of suffering or dying due to the group’s recent protests on M25 slip-roads and London bridges.

Insulate Britain protester Biff Whipster
Insulate Britain protester Biff Whipster
Biff outside Downing Street with fellow Insulate Britain protesters
Biff outside Downing Street with fellow Insulate Britain protesters

“What has been shown on television and social media is misleading, as we specifically agreed before we went out every time that we would not hold up an ambulance on blue lights,” he said.

“The fact is, the prosecution against us produced no evidence of anyone coming to harm.”

Mr Whipster reels off what he believes is compelling evidence to support Insulate Britain’s aims.

“Thousands of people die every year due to fuel poverty,” he said.

“Although funding the insulation of everyone’s home would cost billions, it would also create hundreds of thousands of proper jobs, pay for itself in the long term and significantly reduce CO2 emissions. Quite honestly, we should have been doing this 30 years ago.”

But he admits his passion to save the planet continues to come at a heavy cost, revealing he even spent his 54th birthday locked in a cell following another arrest.

“My teenage children and parents are proud of what I’ve done, but prison does scare me,” he admits. “I’m quite a private person so I’m dreading sharing a cell, as well as the noise and toilet routine.

“But it pales into insignificance with the suffering people are already going through due to the climate crisis.”

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