Sunday, 20 Sep 2020

Extinction Rebellion protesters arrested after blockading newspaper print sites

More than a dozen Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters have been arrested after blockading two UK printworks owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Around 100 members of the group used vans and bamboo structures to block access to Newsprinters sites at Broxbourne, in Hertfordshire, and Knowsley, near Liverpool, on Friday night.

Hertfordshire Police said delivery lorries had not left the Broxbourne site as of 6am on Saturday, with 13 arrests made and more expected.

The sites publish the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp’s titles including The Sun, The Times, The Sun on Sunday and The Sunday Times.

The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, and the London Evening Standard are also printed at those locations.

Newsprinters, the publishing factory, condemned the protests as an ‘attack on all of the free press’ which had affected workers going about their jobs.

They said they had moved the work elsewhere but admitted some papers may be late because of XR’s actions.

‘Our teams are working to get newspapers delivered to retailers as soon as possible this morning,’ Newsprinters said in a statement.

‘This attack on the free press impacted many workers going about their jobs. Overnight print workers, deliver drivers, wholesale workers and retail newsagents have faced delays and financial penalty.’

Hertfordshire Police said officers were called to the Broxbourne plant at around 10pm, where they found around 100 protesters who had ‘secured themselves to structures and one another’.

Under a banner reading ‘Free the truth’, XR tweeted that it was using the disruption to expose the newspapers’ ‘failure to report on the climate & ecological emergency, and their consistent manipulation of truth to suit their own agendas’.

It comes after several days of disruption in London by the group, in a bid to highlight the climate crisis.

Hertfordshire Police assistant chief constable Owen Weatherill said officers were ‘working to facilitate the rights of both the protesters and those affected by their presence’ but protesters were not co-operating.

Merseyside Police tweeted on Saturday morning that officers were still in attendance at the Knowsley plant.

XR protesters also held a smaller demonstration near Motherwell aimed at disrupting the distribution of Saturday’s Scottish Sun newspaper.

Protesters have been warned they risk a large fine if they fail to comply with coronavirus rules banning gatherings of more than 30 people.

The Met Police said risk assessments explaining how XR activists were minimising the possibility of Covid-19 transmission at a planned march in Westminster ‘did not meet the required standard’.

The force said XR’s latest round of demonstrations ‘pose a risk, not only to those involved, but to the wider public and communities of London’.

On Saturday a procession of activists that set of from Brighton on foot a week ago is due to march the final stretch to Parliament.

They have been banned from taking a 20ft model boat named after teenage activist Greta Thunberg to the streets of Westminster.

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