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Meet the ragged gang of eco-activists who tried to block free speech with protests against printing companies


One is a former paratrooper, the other a 22-year-old “birth turner” who swears she will never have children for the planet.

They were part of the ragged – and rather bourgeois – gang of printing rebels who tried to block free speech on Friday night.

Others included a failed would-be MP (who works for the Independent News website in particular) and a retired tax officer. All eight featured here marched on newspaper printers to impose their views and suppress all others.

The Extinction Rebellion protests resulted in a night of chaos and 81 arrests in Knowsley, Merseyside, and Broxbourne, Hertfordshire.

Nearly 80 people were charged yesterday, but no longer than three months' sentence is currently available if convicted.

Student activist Katie Ritchie-Moulin was one of the ragged and more civic rebel groups that tried to block free speech by trying to prevent several major national newspapers from printing on Friday nights

1. Katie Ritchie-Moulin, 21

The student, a veteran of direct climate protests, grew up in an affluent suburb of Birmingham.

Her psychological father, Lawrence Moulin, 63, has overseen mental health guidelines in the West Midlands, while her mother, Fiona Ritchie, 55, has a health and social care counselor with experience in managing multi-million pound budgets.

Miss Ritchie-Moulin was depicted chained to railings outside Leeds Civic Hall in an extinction of rebellion against plans to expand Leeds-Bradford Airport in January with a bicycle lock around her neck and a sign reading "Airport expansion is ecocide!"

At the time, Ms. Ritchie-Moulin, who is studying medicine at the University of Leeds, admitted she was feeling "very cold" and agreed that the chaining to railings could be viewed as drastic. However, she insisted that the airport expansion was "pretty drastic" too.

No one was home yesterday in the family's three-story red brick house in the affluent suburb of Moseley. She was charged with grossly breaking the Knowsley blockade.

2. Donnachadh McCarthy, 61

Former MP and independent columnist Donnachadh McCarthy

Former MP and independent columnist Donnachadh McCarthy

The deputy chairman of the Liberal Democrats from 2000 to 2003 appeared unsuccessfully against Harriet Harman of Labor as a MP in Peckham in 2001.

He took part in the Broxbourne protest as "spokesman" for XR and is said not to have been one of the arrested.

The Cork native told the Mail he works as an eco auditor helping companies get greener. He said, "We wanted people to wake up on Saturday morning and buy their newspaper and say, 'Why isn't it here? "They may be angry, but in a few weeks' time they may heed the warnings.

"We don't want to be arrested, most people are nice people." The police say they love to come to our protests because there is never any trouble. "

Mr McCarthy was arrested during the Occupy London protests in 2014. He claims his house in Camberwell is London's first carbon negative home with solar hot water and electricity, a wind turbine and a rain harvester.

In particular, he is a columnist for the Independent News website, where he writes on environmental issues and planning policy.

3. Lydia Dibben, 22

Student Lydia Dibben with a bicycle D-lock around her neck at an XR protest

Student Lydia Dibben with a bicycle D-lock around her neck at an XR protest

The Surrey student is a self-proclaimed "birthstorm" and says she will never have children for environmental reasons.

She swore at a rally last year, "How could I raise a child in a world that doesn't care about its future?" I declare that I will not bear children, but I will continue the fight for climate justice and hope that our actions will improve the future for all children of all kinds who already live on this beautiful planet. "

The red-haired zoology student from Leeds University expressed her support for "mass, nonviolent, civil disobedience" and said her goal was to "wake up the passive masses who sleep on the path to extinction".

When she came to Extinction Rebellion, her mother Stefanie wrote online: "I can't express how proud I am of her."

Miss Dibben lives with her mother and jewelry designer father Jon, 53, in a £ 350,000 house in a village near Horsham. She was charged with grossly breaking the Knowsley blockade.

4. Gully Bujak, 27

As a self-proclaimed "actress, model and extra" she was seen sprawled on an inflatable mattress on a bus during the Hertfordshire protest.

When she was arrested and taken away from a WPC, she raved about her “extraordinary” protesters as if they were cast on a hit West End show.

The activist said: “The climate emergency is an existential threat to humanity. Instead of getting this front-page news every day as it deserves, a lot of our media outlets are ignoring the issue and some are actively sowing seeds of climate denial.

"We say the following about these papers: They will no longer come between us."

5. Robert Possnett, 58

Former paratrooper Robert Possnett calls himself a "literary snob and real ale lover"

Former paratrooper Robert Possnett calls himself a "literary snob and true ale lover".

The former paratrooper loves beer, good books – and is annoying. Mr Possnett describes himself on social media as a "literary snob and a true beer lover" and bragged on Twitter for joining the protest at the Broxbourne plant on Friday night.

He had previously been convicted of participating in an XR protest.

Yesterday one of his sons told the Mail that he was "a very passionate protester of climate change".

The family lives in a large, chalet-style house in leafy Great Barton near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. The property is full of books with windows for bookshelves.

A neighbor said, "Robert has been campaigning for a long time. He's a handsome guy who loves his beer, but I'm sure a couple of people here were upset this morning when they couldn't get their papers."

6. Jon Fuller, 62

A former HM Revenue and Customs official, he is a seasoned activist who was arrested from the pink boat in Oxford Circus during protests against the Extinction Rebellion last year.

He ran for Parliament in 2015 as a Green candidate in Southend, finishing fifth.

In Broxbourne he told the Mail: “We are asking the media to tell the truth now. We have no more time. "

7. Donald Bell, 64

Former infantryman Donald Bell

Former infantryman Donald Bell

As a young infantryman in the British Army, he was hit by shrapnel from an IRA car bomb that killed two other soldiers in Stewartstown in 1974.

Mr. Bell made four missions with the Royal Anglican Regiment.

These days he is fighting against climate change.

In February, he was seen digging the lawn at Trinity College, Cambridge, and was later arrested after being glued to a police car. He told reporters that he had written letters to the government for nearly 50 years but was always ignored.

He said, “We had to be more disruptive. I just felt compelled to do something for my children and grandchildren. "

8. Richard Hallewell, 49

The father of four from Thurston, Suffolk, is the director of two technology companies, including a software company.

Holding the banner blocking the street in Broxbourne, he said, "We have tried all the beautiful things, we have written to our MPs, we have done all these things and nothing has happened."

Tech Company Director and father of four Richard Hallewell

Tech Company Director and father of four Richard Hallewell

Eco zealots could be in jail for FIVE YEARS: Priti Patel threatens to amend the law to turn Extinction Rebellion into a criminal gang so that tougher sentences can be met

ByJason Groves Political Editor for the Daily Mail

Extinction Rebellion Protesters who attack our way of life should go to jail, Priti Patel warns today.

The interior minister has ordered a review of the law to tighten penalties for environmental extremists after they blocked newspaper printing companies in an attempt to stifle freedom of expression.

Options considered include expelling the group as an organized crime gang, which would expose the militants to prison terms of up to five years.

Miss Patel wrote in the Daily Mail today that activists "should face the full force of the law" to "pursue guerrilla tactics … that seek to undermine and harm our society".

Around 100 protesters who turned against newspaper printers in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire and Knowsley near Liverpool in an attempt to suppress free speech have been warned that a change in the law could face jail sentences

Around 100 protesters who turned against newspaper printers in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire and Knowsley near Liverpool in an attempt to suppress free speech have been warned that a change in the law could face jail sentences

Home Secretary Priti Patel has ordered a review of the law to tighten penalties for environmental extremists

Home Secretary Priti Patel has ordered a review of the law to tighten penalties for environmental extremists

One of the protesters from the bamboo lock-ons is led away by a police officer outside the Newsprinters printing works in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire

One of the protesters from the bamboo lock-ons is led away by a police officer outside the Newsprinters printing works in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire

She added: “I am committed to ensuring that the police have the necessary powers to deal with the disruption caused by groups like Extinction Rebellion.

"We have to defend ourselves against this attack on capitalism, our way of life and ultimately our freedoms."

A Home Office source confirmed that Miss Patel would like to see tougher penalties against the ringleaders of a group whose actions are aimed at maximizing economic damage and disruption.

"We want some people to be beaten up instead of fleeing with a fine that they can pay from their trust fund," the source said.

Extinction Rebellion protesters are blocking access to a print shop in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, and leaving the shelves of some newsagents empty Saturday morning

Extinction Rebellion protesters are blocking access to a print shop in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, and leaving the shelves of some newsagents empty Saturday morning

The blockade of printing plants in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire and Knowsley, Merseyside on Friday night disrupted the circulation of 1.5 million newspapers, including the Daily Mail, Sun, Times and Telegraph.

Miss Patel's intervention came about as follows:

  • Ministers ordered police to ensure there was no recurrence, and Boris Johnson personally called City Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.
  • Sir Keir Starmer was under pressure to convict Labour's former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, who compared the XR protesters to the suffragettes.
  • Police chiefs have been criticized for their "soft" approach to the protests.
  • Extinction Rebellion had to deny that it was infiltrated by militant leftists like the Socialist Workers Party.

The blockades on Friday evening were condemned by the entire government. The prime minister said it was "totally unacceptable to restrict public access to news in this way".

Police and fire brigade outside the Newsprinters printing works in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire

Police and fire brigade outside the Newsprinters printing works in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire

The blockades were the latest in a series of direct action protests in which the Metropolitan Police issued 20 fixed charges of £ 10,000 each under coronavirus regulations.

Last night, government sources said Miss Patel and the prime minister had asked officials to conduct a swift review of the law.

Abbott of Labor compares them to suffragettes

Labor's Diane Abbott sparked outrage yesterday when she defended the Extinction Rebellion activists blocking newspaper presses.

Miss Abbott criticized the government's plans to classify them as organized crime groups, describing the protests as "legal tactics".

She said: "They are not criminals, they are protesters and activists in the tradition of the suffragettes and the hunger marches of the 1930s."

Former Shadow Home Secretary told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday, "I think it's important to remind us that direct action – like those measures were – is actually legal."

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, "I am amazed at Diane Abbott's remarks. The idea that it is right to damage property or intervene with a free press in the name of continuing protest is perverse in my opinion."

Options include using the Serious Crime Act 2015 to identify the group as an organized crime gang. As a result, activists can potentially be sentenced to prison terms of up to five years.

Ministers are also examining new powers under the Public Order Act to protect “critical national infrastructure and democratic principles”.

This could make it illegal for protesters to block locations such as parliament, the courts, or newspaper printing plants.

Extinction Rebellion has disrupted people and businesses in a number of direct protests rife. A government source said, "The fact is they are organizing to commit crimes."

Richard Walton, former head of counterterrorism at the Met, said the group is an extremist organization whose methods need to be "confronted and challenged".

Mr Walton, now a senior fellow at the Policy Exchange think tank, said there was "enough justification" for police to intrusively monitor the group.

Extinction Rebellion said it would be ridiculous to classify the group as an organized crime gang.

In a statement yesterday evening, the group said: "According to the government's strategy," organized crime "is" characterized by violence or threats of violence and the use of bribery and corruption ".

This is hardly an accurate description of the thousands of ordinary people who take part in the Extinction Rebellion non-violent protests. "

The group claimed their focus on printing was designed to force newspapers to cover more about climate change.

But the action resulted in many Sun readers missing an interview with Sir David Attenborough on the subject. Academic studies suggest that reporting on climate issues has increased in recent years.

STEPHEN GLOVER: How can you beat the eco-warrior bullies? Apply the law!

For those who recall militant unionists besieging newspaper offices in the 1980s, the scenes outside the Hertfordshire and Merseyside printing works on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings brought back bad memories.

Only this time it wasn't unions suppressing a free press by blocking the distribution of newspapers. The culprits were Extinction Rebellion activists – usually bourgeois types who have no interest in debate and no respect for democracy.

How does society deal with such people? The extremists are not peaceful protesters who make a point as is their right. You are ready to bring a great city like London to a standstill, causing inconvenience to hundreds of thousands of impeccable people.

While any attempt to suppress newspapers is terrifying because it creates communist or fascist regimes, interference in the lives of ordinary people is likely to be worse because of the scale of the disorder.

For those who recall militant unionists besieging newspaper offices in the 1980s, the scenes outside the Hertfordshire and Merseyside printing works on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings brought back bad memories. Pictured: Mounted officers hold back striking print workers outside News International's Wapping facility

For those who recall militant unionists besieging newspaper offices in the 1980s, the scenes outside the Hertfordshire and Merseyside printing works on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings brought back bad memories. Pictured: Mounted officers hold back striking print workers outside News International's Wapping facility

Extinction Rebellion (XR) managed to immobilize the country's capital in April 2019 and again last October. Bridges and roads were blocked and public transport was suspended. Other cities suffered similar upheavals, albeit on a smaller scale.

Together, the protests have set the city police back by at least £ 37 million. Compare the annual budget of just £ 15million for a violent crime task force based in London.

The financial burden of disrupting businesses and stores could not be accurately calculated, but it could be greater. One estimate is that as little as two days, Malarkey businesses in the West End cost £ 12 million, with visitor numbers and spend down by a quarter.

Other recent protest groups, such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament or the Women of Greenham Common, appear to be reasonable, moderate and considerate compared to the often destructive rebellion of the Extinction.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) managed to immobilize the country's capital in April 2019 and again last October. Bridges and roads were blocked and public transport was suspended

Extinction Rebellion (XR) managed to immobilize the country's capital in April 2019 and again last October. Bridges and roads were blocked and public transport was suspended

So I think the government is right to view this organization, which appears to have been infiltrated by several groups on the far left, as unusually reckless and dangerous.

However, it does not follow that XR should be classified as an "organized crime group" as it is reportedly an option that is being considered by the government. The thought is that this would allow the authorities to impose much more severe penalties.

The problem is that Extinction Rebellion cannot exactly be described as an organized crime group that is defined by the Crown Prosecutor as "for its purpose or one of its purposes the pursuit of criminal activity".

As disgusting as some of the Extinction Rebellion activists may be, and however ready they are to break the law, the organization as a whole is clearly not involved in any criminal conspiracy.

Such a reclassification would mean making martyrs of his misguided leaders. More seriously, it could be seen that a precedent is being set that, if the government disapproves of people exercising their right to freedom of expression, can be redesignated as criminals.

No, let's not treat XR like that. There is no need to. Because there are enough laws in the police armory if they had the courage to apply them.

Unfortunately, the police acted slowly on Friday evening and Saturday morning. In the Hertfordshire and Merseyside printing plants, they were unable to evacuate the Extinction Rebellion demonstrators for more than six hours. In the end there were 80 arrests. Their relaxed demeanor is reminiscent of the relaxed behavior of some police officers during demonstrations in London last year. Absurdly, police officers were filmed with protesters while a police officer was seen skateboarding on Waterloo Bridge.

Labor's Diane Abbott defended the protest, saying direct action was a "legal tactic" adding that it would be "ridiculous" for the government to reclassify the rebellion of annihilation

Labor's Diane Abbott defended the protest, saying direct action was a "legal tactic" adding that it would be "ridiculous" for the government to reclassify the rebellion of annihilation

Have ordinary cops gone soft? Or is it just their shy, politically correct bosses? There is a new tendency to try to make common cause with protesters, as evidenced by officials at the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in June.

No one could be more enthusiastic about the concept of consensual policing than I do, but that doesn't mean doing nothing when there is a clear violation of existing laws.

Isn't the Queen's highway clogged against the law? The 1980 Highways Act states that "a person who, without legitimate authority or apology, intentionally obstructs free passage along a freeway in any way is guilty of a crime".

What about the law of aggravated transgression? Entering while intentionally preventing, disturbing or intimidating others from engaging in “lawful activities” is a criminal offense.

Not for the first time, Labor MP and former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott was mistaken yesterday when she claimed blocking newspaper printing plants was a "legal tactic".

In an article in today's Mail, Home Secretary Priti Patel points out new laws. It has been speculated that these might protect judges, MPs and even journalists who go about their normal business. Well, conceivable if it proves necessary.

But we should be wary of laws aimed at the extinction rebellion – and in any case avoid treating them as a criminal organization. Let's use the existing legislation, which on the one hand protects freedom of speech and on the other does not allow bullies to destroy their livelihoods.

Then all we need is a robust and sensible police force determined to enforce the law.

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