Socialist Worker

Priti Patel contacted top cops during XR media protests

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2759

Climate activists blockading the bosses media

Climate activists blockading the bosses' media (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Home secretary Priti Patel personally contacted the police as Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists blocked the production of right-wing newspapers last September.

The two blockades, one at a plant in Knowsley in Merseyside, and another in Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, were able to halt the distribution of 3.5 million newspapers across Britain.

Right wing newspapers such as The Sun, The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail all saw a delay in their distribution.

Trials of the 81 XR activists arrested at these protests have continued—with most being acquitted.

During the trial of six of the activists last week, the court heard that calls and texts between Patel and two senior police officers had been “lost”.

XR activists acquitted over printing plant protests
XR activists acquitted over printing plant protests
  Read More

Chief Constable Charlie Hall and Assistant Chief Constable Matt Nicholls were both contacted by Patel during the night of 5 September 2020. Neither noted down the conversation.

Hall made the excuse that his phone had been updated in the time between the XR action and the trials.

The lawyer for the six defendants Raj Chada said that because of significant contact and pressure from within the Home Office, the defendants would not receive a fair trial.

The court also heard that Patel had initially heard about the XR action from her “contacts in the media”.

Patel described the protesters as “so-called eco-crusaders turned criminals” and said the protests were “an attack on our free press”.

The trials of other XR activists involved in the blockade in September are set to continue for months.


Climate promises not enough

The leaders at the G7 summit made a number of feeble climate promises that aren’t anywhere near enough to address the climate crisis.

An agreement was made to put an end to coal fuel power stations that don’t use carbon capture technology. But even with the application of carbon capture technology, burning coal will never not add to global emissions.

The G7 also promised to hand £2 billion a year to poor countries to turn away from coal.

US president Joe Biden made assurances that his country would stop burning coal altogether.

But he gave no indication of when this may happen.

Climate activists were also angry at the failure of the G7 to commit to directing funds to poor nations to help mediate the impact of climate change.

They said that the £100 billion a year that the G7 promised to developing countries in 2009—that wasn’t met in 2020—falls short of what is needed.


Police targeted climate activists

Activists in Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Animal Rebellion were heavily targeted by the police during protests at the G7 summit last weekend.

Police raided a campsite where an offshoot from Animal Rebellion was staying.

An activist with the group said that 60 police arrived at the camps with dogs on Saturday.

During the raid the police found spray paint and scaffolding which led them to arrest 15 activists on conspiracy to create public nuisance charges. They were held in custody overnight.

Seven arrests were also made from XR protesters that had smoke grenades and loudhailers in their car.

One activist said the cops seemed to be “trying to find something wrong” with the cars carrying protesters.

The crackdown on XR and Animal Rebellion in Cornwall is a stark reminder of the kind of powers the police will have if the Tories’ policing bill goes through.


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