An animal rights activist who ran on to the track at the Epsom Derby has been handed a suspended prison sentence for breaching a High Court injunction.
Ben Newman was filmed running on to the course as the 12-furlong Classic began on June 3.
The Jockey Club, which owns Epsom, had previously been granted an injunction banning the Animal Rising group, of which Newman is a supporter, from intervening in the event.
During contempt of court proceedings in London on Wednesday, the High Court heard Newman had admitted breaching the order and was given a two-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.
Tim James-Matthews, for Newman, said he “reiterates his sincere apologies to the court, the claimant and those affected by his conduct”.
The court heard the “committed animal rights campaigner” had entered the track close to the finish line shortly after the start of the race – with the horses around two minutes away.
Mr James-Matthews said the horses could have been stopped if needed and that Newman’s actions were different from the 1913 suffragette protest in which Emily Davison was fatally injured after she ran in front of the King’s horse.
“This is not that case, this is a considerable distance – literally – from that scenario,” the barrister said.
Mr Justice Miles said he accepted Newman was “motivated by conscientious objectives” but did not rule on whether they were legitimate.
He continued: “The only issue for the court at this hearing is the appropriate sanction to be imposed on the defendant in respect of his admitted contempt of court.
“He deliberately flouted the order. His actions were planned in advance.
“He was not acting under pressure or compulsion and his actions were his own.”
Mr Justice Miles was told that Newman previously pleaded guilty to causing public nuisance in related criminal proceedings and had spent more than 30 days in custody prior to his sentencing in July.
Handing down the suspended sentence, the judge noted Newman had apologised and “tasted imprisonment”.
Following the sentencing, Nevin Truesdale, the Jockey Club’s chief executive, said: “Ben Newman’s decision to breach security and run on to the track while the Derby was under way was a reckless stunt which could have compromised the safety and security of humans and horses.”
He added: “We were always very clear that if anyone chose to breach the injunction then we would not hesitate to take further action.
“It has always been our intention for that action to be both clear and proportionate and we accept the sanction imposed on Mr Newman by the court today.
“More widely, it is our sincere hope that by pursuing this matter in the High Court it sends a very clear message to anyone who might in future consider disrupting races in such a way, that we will never tolerate illegal and reckless behaviour of this kind.”