An Insulate Britain protester arrested for blocking the M25 is the wife of a Transport for London director, it has been revealed.
The Daily Mail reports that Cathy Eastburn, 54, has vowed to 'unleash hell' on drivers even though her husband is public transport boss Benedict Plowden, 58.
Ms Eastburn has been arrested several times during M25 blockades with fringe group Insulate Britain and for other activities with Extinction Rebellion.
Her antics recently became the subject of a High Court injunction by TfL which means she could be jailed if she attempts to join a blockade again.
And £170,000-a-year Mr Plowden, who was charged with the Covid Restart and Recovery Scheme, has also been accused of 'harbouring' another eco-extremist in the South London home the couple share.
The arrangement has been called 'staggeringly inappropriate', The Sun reported.
Cambridge philosophy graduate Ms Eastburn has become one of Britain's most prolific climate change activists. In December 2019 she avoided jail for gluing herself to a train in London.
She was sentenced for halting Docklands Light Railway services at Canary Wharf station in east London as part of a series of protests carried out across the city.
Eastburn was given a 12-month conditional alongside Mark Ovland, 36, and Luke Watson, 30, who both took part in the demonstration with her.
The trio had denied the charges of obstructing an engine or a carriage using a railway on April 17 this year, claiming the stunt was justified because of the threat of climate change.
Sentencing them at Inner London Crown Court, Judge Silas Reid warned against protesting that would amount to them committing further criminal offences.
But she was apprehended four times in nine days as protesters from the campaign group blocked London's Orbital Motorway last week.
But even the sound therapist was surprised by the lack of police action. While protesting she set her out-of-office email to: 'If you’re reading this, it is because I have been arrested and possibly put in prison on remand.'
But Ms Eastburn was released without charge without being interviewed each time she was arrested.
She told the Sunday Times she thought her actions were 'proportionate' because forcing drivers to sit in traffic for hours was 'incomparable to the kind of chaos that's coming down the track - major flooding and major food shortages'.
Mr Plowden meanwhile has been tasked with 'getting London moving after the pandemic', though last night it emerged he was leaving his post.
He has held a number of senior roles at TfL since joining in 2004, including Director of Borough Partnerships and Director of Strategy and Planning in Surface Transport.
Mr Plowden does have his own green credentials as well, described as a 'leading environmental campaigner' he founded climate group Living Streets which works to create a better walking environment across the country.
The £1.5million South London home he shares with Ms Eastburn is believed to have been used by activist David McKenny, 38, with whom Ms Eastburn pledged to 'unleash hell' on innocent drivers in the run up to next month's COP26 climate summit.
Last night the couple were blasted by Tory MP and transport select committee member Greg Smith.
'Insulate Britain has caused untold misery for individuals and businesses over recent weeks,' he told The Sun.
'It is an absolute kick in the teeth that someone senior in TfL — an arm of the British state — has been harbouring them in their house. This is unacceptable.'
London mayor Sadiq Khan, who oversees TfL, has previously accused Insulate Britain of risking people lives on busy roads.
A taxi driver who intervened to take a dangerous driver's car keys was subjected to a brutal attack and left with life-changing injuries.
According to the Basildon Echo, Lynda Wilson has received a Chief Constable's commendation for courage and bravery after her public-spirited actions led to her receiving serious injuries.
She was working as a taxi driver in Basildon when she saw a vehicle that had stopped in the middle of dual carriageway at 3.15am. The driver was slumped over the wheel.
Lynda parked and approached the car. Inside, both the driver and his female passenger were clearly intoxicated.
When Lynda reached inside the car and removed the keys, the man behind the wheel became aggressive and subjected Lynda to a brutal attack, knocking her unconscious.
Lynda said her attacker “went mad and used my head as a football”.
She added: “I can remember him saying, ‘Give me my car keys.’ I said, ‘No. If I give you the car keys, you’ll kill someone.’
"He said, ‘If you don’t give me the keys, I’m going to kill you.’
“He said he’d give me to the count of three. I remember him saying ‘One’. The next thing I knew I was on the floor.
“I was left in the middle of the road, I couldn’t move. I was trying to get to the curb. He got back in his car and he was laughing and revving the engine. I thought he was going to run me over, but he didn’t, and he took off.”
Lynda’s hip was broken in the attack in December 2018 and she had to have a full hip replacement.
She still has a scar on her head from where her attacker stamped on her.
The information she provided to officers directly led to the suspect being apprehended two hours later.
Essex Police said he received a "substantial" prison sentence.
Despite her injuries, Lynda has no regrets about intervening.
She said: “People who drive after drinking or taking drugs aren’t the always the ones that end up getting hurt, it’s other people.
"My kids would say I’m foolish, but you don’t think about that at the time. Looking back, I’d do it again.”
Lynda was awarded her commendation by Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington at a ceremony at Essex Police headquarters.
Mr Harrington said: “Lynda’s bravery was incredible and led directly to the arrest of a dangerous individual. She put herself in harm’s way and sustained serious injuries in attempting to protect the lives of others.
“As Robert Peel said, the police are the public and the public are the police, and Lynda thoroughly deserves this recognition for her public-spirited actions.
"Her family and friends should be extremely proud of her.”
A man attacked a taxi driver after summoning him to a secluded field in revenge for what he believed were inappropriate comments made towards his sister.
CornwallLive reports that Harry James landed a number of blows on the driver leaving him battered and bruised.
James, 27, of Porthtowan, appeared at Truro Crown Court for sentence having pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Prosecuting the case, Francesca Whebell told the court how on the night in question back in October 2019 the victim was working as a taxi driver.
He picked up three female passengers, one being James’ sister, and during the course of the journey made a comment about knowing where she lived and possibly something about her bedroom.
The group were dropped at The Victory Inn in Porthtowan and the driver went on his way.
James’ sister then told the defendant about the comments and along with a female and two males, James requested the taxi for another fare, to meet at a field near the pub.
When the taxi driver arrived a door opened and he was subjected to a flurry of blows to the head in the attack that lasted 20 to 30 seconds before James and the two other individuals fled.
The victim suffered cuts and swelling and continues to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in relation to the incident. He managed to identify James through Facebook.
Representing James, Robin Smith said: “He is keen to express and demonstrates genuine remorse and shame over how he acted. He is a protective man of those around him. He is hard working and industrious and runs his own business.”
Sentencing James, Judge Simon Carr said: “The victim was a taxi driver and picked up a number of people including your sister. Something was said by him that upset your sister.
“He dropped her off and at the end of the journey she told you what happened. You had a decision to make. If you were concerned you should have phoned the cab company and made a complaint. If you thought a crime was committed you should have called the police.
“Instead the firm was contacted and the driver requested again. He was lured to a deserted area and three people approached him. Nothing or very little was said and what followed was a sustained beating and he was left in that condition in the field.”
Judge Carr went on to say that taxi drivers perform an important role, often working late at night, alone and dealing with drunk people and that it is the court’s responsibility to protect such people.
James was jailed for ten months leading to scenes in the courtroom whereby James’ family shouted at the victim.
A taxi passenger threw herself from the moving cab because she was terrified the diabetic driver was about to crash the car.
According to SomersetLive, Mark Cousins, from Yeovil, appeared at Taunton Crown Court where he admitted dangerous driving and driving whilst disqualified.
The judge told him his driving had shown a disregard for the management of his diabetes and put his passenger in danger.
Prosecutor Ms Susan Cavender said the incident happened on September 9 last year.
A woman was driving home to Exeter when her vehicle broke down on the A303 near Sparkford. Breakdown was organised but due to Covid restrictions the recovery vehicle would not take her from the scene.
There was a muddle about the location and the taxi driver appeared rude and impatient on the phone, said the prosecutor. When he did arrive the woman had been waiting at the roadside for nearly three hours.
When she got in Cousins' driving was erratic.
"He was travelling over the rumble strip, straddling central markings, trying to overtake slower moving vehicles and only just making it back to his lane," said Ms Cavender.
The passenger noticed the speed was increasing to 80mph and asked the driver if he was all right.
At one stage he took a call from his boss at Yeovil Taxis saying other drivers had called them to report his driving.
Cousins told the company 'It's fine, mate".
As he approached the next roundabout the taxi driver performed an emergency stop and skidded into a barrier. He apologised and drove on.
His passenger was so scared she asked to be let out but Cousins refused saying 'it's fine, love'.
"In desperation as the car slowed down she opened the rear passenger door and threw herself out," said the prosecutor. She had been in the car for about 15 minutes. As the passenger left the car she hit the ground and began rolling.
She needed three stitches on her head, four stitches on her elbow and suffered ligament damage to both feet and gravel wounds. She still suffers from memory problems, finds it difficult to be on the roads and can't trust other drivers. She suffers from anxiety and has had to rely on her parents for help.
Cousins carried on driving after she had flung herself from his car. Another motorist tried to flag him down but he was unresponsive.
He was also seen drifting onto the central reservation, travelling slowly then speeding up to 80mph and swerving onto grass verges. The witness thought his driving was so poor that he must be deliberately trying to flip the car.
The taxi eventually ended up in a hedge. Cousins' blood sugar level was dangerously low and he was taken to hospital.
He had been working for the firm for ten years and told police he could not remember anything about driving the woman.
Mr Patrick Mason, defending, said the incident happened because Cousins had not been due to start his shift until 4pm that day. His boss called to say he was the only person available to pick-up the woman. As a result of the circumstances and change to his routine he had not managed his diabetes as he should have done and had not tested his blood sugar levels or had lunch which led to him suffering a hypoglycemic episode.
"He didn't want this happen, he didn't want to drive or cause injury to anybody," said Mr Mason. He said Cousins had a strong work ethic and had not driven since. He was now employed at the hospital as a porter.
It turned out Cousins had passed out at the wheel on a previous occasion in 2015 when he was driving from Heathrow. Since then he had been required to regularly update his licence due to his diabetes which he has had since he was 20. The licence had lapsed just three days before the incident, something he was not aware of.
Judge Paul Cook said: "When slowing on the slip road your passenger took the opportunity to throw herself from the vehicle. It was a desperate measure that demonstrates the level of fear she had as a consequence of your driving."
But he said Cousins was not a threat to the public and did not need to be rehabilitated.
Cousins was jailed for 10 months, suspended for 18 months. He was told to do 100 hours of unpaid work and disqualified from driving for 30 months. At the end of that period he will need to take an extended test before he is allowed his licence back.
Nottingham taxi drivers have said that a £200 grant from the council is 'nothing' and will not make up for the impact of Coronavirus.
Nottingham City Council decided on September 20 to use £320,000 of funds to pay every council licensed taxi driver £200, in order to contribute towards the cost of Covid measures such as screens and extra cleaning.
The £200 grant follows a £400 payment by Nottingham City Council to drivers earlier this year.
Cabbies thought that the money received was "nothing" compared to the grants which other drivers across Nottinghamshire have received from local authorities.
Asif Maqsood, 44, a taxi driver, said: "Taxi drivers have had a rough time.
"Before we got a payment of £400 earlier this year, but I have heard that Rushcliffe council gave £4,500 while Gedling gave £2,100.
"It is not enough and the majority, if not 100 per cent, of drivers think the same."
Wasim Amin, 41, chair of the Nottingham Taxi Owners' and Drivers' Association, who has been a driver for more than a decade, said: "Any help from the local government is appreciated in these difficult times for self employed, small business licensed taxi drivers by NCC.
"We feel the council could have done more to support the licensed vehicles as there was no work but it seems that the council has not indicated how much was received from central government and put us drivers at the bottom of the pecking order as always."
However, Nottingham City Council said that taxi drivers had been fairly compensated for the cost of Covid measures.
Cllr Rebecca Langton, Portfolio Holder for Skills, Growth and Economic Development at Nottingham City Council, said: “We completely understand how hard the past 18 months have been for all businesses and self-employed people.
"However, to suggest that taxi drivers have been unfairly treated by the council over supplementary grants is incorrect.
“In Nottingham, we received a pot of money from Central Government – the Discretionary Grant scheme – which we were asked to distribute among all local businesses.
"This was never supposed to replace lost income or act as a wage supplement for taxi drivers. The Government compensated individuals directly through its self-employed support programme.
“Instead, Discretionary Grant funding is intended to help with additional Covid-related costs, which for taxi drivers could include things like screens in vehicles and PPE.
“Proportionally-speaking, taxi drivers in Nottingham have received a significant chunk of this discretionary money – around £1million in total.
"We have 2,500 licensed drivers in the city which means we could never provide the individual level of financial support offered by a small number of neighbouring districts.
"Doing so would have left not a single penny to support other Nottingham businesses also affected by the pandemic, including hospitality and retail.
“However, we made an initial payment of £400 followed by another of £200 more recently. There is no requirement to pay taxi drivers anything out of the Discretionary Grant scheme and, indeed, many councils have chosen not to. We felt differently.
“Our research shows the average amount each driver received nationally was £500, meaning taxi drivers in Nottingham had more than most around the country at £600 each."