False: A Just Stop Oil activist was hit with a traffic cone on the M25 motorway.

By: Ishita Goel
November 14 2022

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False: A Just Stop Oil activist was hit with a traffic cone on the M25 motorway.


The Verdict False

The video is unrelated to the ongoing Just Stop Oil protests in the U.K. The clip dates back to at least 2019, well before the group was even founded.

Claim ID 861bec71


The United Kingdom has witnessed several protests from climate change protestors affiliated with the environmental activist group Just Stop Oil in the past few months. The group's protest disrupted junctions of the M25 motorway around London for several days last week. The group wants the government to immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development, and production of fossil fuels in the United Kingdom. 

Amid such developments, misinformation on social media around the protests has spiked. One such viral Facebook video shows a woman standing in front of a car in the middle of the road while vehicles around her honk incessantly. As the woman continues blocking the car's path, a traffic cone is seen flying through the air, hitting her head and striking her down. The video was shared with the caption: "If you get stuck in traffic on the M25 this week the boredom can be relieved with a game of skittles!" The user did not share the video specifically claiming that the incident took place on the M25 during the Just Stop Oil protests. However, as is indicative from the comments made on the video, several Facebook users appeared to believe so, and some even encouraged such action against all climate change protestors.

 In Fact

However, the video is old and unconnected to the recent climate change protests in the U.K.

 On carrying out a reverse image search using one of the keyframes of the video, we came across the same video posted by a YouTube account called 'Food Fight' on November 7, 2019. Several other channels had also posted the same clip in November 2019 and over the years. The video has primarily been shared with captions stating that a woman blocking traffic had been hit by a traffic cone, while some stated that the woman was a climate protestor. However, we could not find the origin of the video or details about the incident captured on camera.

 We also found that the official Just Stop Oil Twitter account was created in December 2021, while the group launched its campaign in February 2022. The timeline of press releases on its website shows two supporters with an ultimatum for the then-U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The press release is titled “Breaking: ‘Just Stop Oil’ youth campaigners deliver ultimatum to Boris Johnson” and was released on February 14. It was the first press statement released by the group on its website. This implies that the viral video has no connection to the climate protests by the Just Stop Oil group because it precedes their existence.

 Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to ensure that the government commits to ending fossil fuel use. According to their website, their preferred way to do it is non-violent civil resistance. One of their most headline-grabbing moments in the recent past was the group's activists throwing a can of tomato soup over Vincent Van Gogh's painting 'Sunflowers' at the National Gallery in London.

 The group's protests through October and the roadblocks in November have caused outrage among the people and the government, with the former facing disruptions in their daily commute and the latter stating that the demonstrations cost taxpayers millions and drained police resources. Fifty-eight people were charged in the last four days of the protest. Meanwhile, 677 people were arrested, and 111 were charged in the 32 days of disruption from the end of September and throughout October, according to The Guardian.

 On November 11, the group released a statement saying it would halt its campaign of civil resistance on the M25. However, a spokesperson for the group did not rule out the possibility that they would return to the motorway in the future.

 The Verdict

An old video dating back to at least November 2019 is being incorrectly linked to the recent protests in the U.K. by the environmental group Just Stop Oil. While the origin and the context of the video remain unclear, it is certainly not of an incident on the M25 during the recent protests. Hence, we have marked this claim false.

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