John McDonnell said he was inspired by Extinction Rebellion protesters
John McDonnell surprised a judge by saying he was inspired by Extinction Rebellion protesters in a statement expressing support for three activists charged with public order offences.
Judge Richard Blake convicted XR activists Patrick Thelwell, 20, Peter Scott, 66, and Samuel Elmore, 26, of offences that included breaching the Public Order Act, obstructing police and obstructing a highway during the group’s demonstrations that brought central London to a halt in April.
City of London Magistrates Court heard a statement from Mr McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, praising the protests for helping persuade politicians to debate climate change and declare a formal state of climate and environmental emergency.
The Labour frontbencher said he and others were inspired by Extinction Rebellion’s action, noting that his party’s policies had developed significantly as a result, the Telegraph reported.
Mr McDonnell said in a statement: ‘The activists successfully raised the profile of the climate threat and focused the minds of us all on the radical action that is needed.’
In June Mr McDonnell said the disruption of the protests was ‘definitely worth it’ to raise awareness of the issue.
The Labour frontbencher said he and others were inspired by Extinction Rebellion’s action, noting that his party’s policies had developed significantly as a result (pictured: Extinction Rebellion, Piccadilly Circus, April 15, 2019)
While summing up the case, Judge Blake said he was ‘surprised’ by the senior Jeremy Corbyn ally’s statement, adding: ‘I will say no more than that’.
He said he accepted the protesters were sincere in their beliefs and were genuinely concerned about a coming climate catastrophe, but noted police evidence about how disruption affected some 500,000 travellers, including those with lower incomes, who were unable to leave Victoria bus station during the chaos.
The judge commented that the demonstration put a huge burden on the Met Police – who spent an extra £7.5million policing the demonstrations.
‘It should be known in a time when we are fearful of knife violence and the epidemic of robberies which we hear about in the city that the effect of this protest was to remove those officers from being able to police them, which is disappointing to say the least,’ the judge said.
The judge rejected barrister Russel Fraser’s argument that the group’s actions were necessary to get the Government to take measures to avoid the ‘catastrophic consequences’ from climate change.
Thelwell, from York; Scott, from Devon; and Elmore, from Hyde End in Buckinghamshire, were discharged on condition they did not reoffend in the next year.
The judge noted that the demonstration put a huge burden on the Met Police – who spent an extra £7.5million policing the demonstrations (pictured: Extinction Rebellion, Oxford Circus, April 15 2019)
Extinction Rebellion is reportedly planning to repeat their protests in London this October after more than 1,000 people were arrested during their demonstrations earlier this year.
Earlier this month Extinction Rebellion activists splattered red paint and sprayed messages on the Brazilian embassy in London in a protest over the rights of indigenous people.
And The Mail on Sunday revealed that a separate group of climate change activists are plotting to shut down Heathrow Airport with drones, threatening chaos for more than a million travellers starting September 13.
With about 219,000 passengers using Heathrow on an average day, more than 1.5 million people could be affected.
Final planning documents, seen exclusively by The Mail on Sunday, show that the protesters will fly toy drones at head height over the airfield to stop aircraft landing or taking off.
The group claim ‘the airport’s authorities will respond by grounding all flights’.
The plan is for drones to be launched each day at 3am to get ahead of the majority of scheduled flights.