London mayor accused by rank and file police of ‘aggravating’ climate protests

  • Date: 18/04/19
  • The Daily Telegraph

The Mayor of London has been accused by rank and file police officers of “aggravating” climate protests as demonstrators brought havoc to the capital.

Sadiq Khan was criticised by policing and business leaders after activists from Extinction Rebellion were able to disrupt major transport routes for a third day.

Hundreds of arrested protesters even cited the Mayor’s support for their cause to police in a bid to escape criminal charges, The Telegraph has learned.

It came after another chaotic day in which three protesters glued themselves to a train, while Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge and Parliament Square were brought to a standstill.

Around half a million people are thought to have been affected by the disruption with bus routes cancelled and tube lines delayed. The cost to businesses has already reached more than £12 million, according to a spokesman for London’s busiest shopping area.

Police officers remove a climate change activist at Oxford Circus on the third day of its blockade by environmental protest group Extinction Rebellion
Police officers remove a climate change activist at Oxford Circus on the third day of its blockade by environmental protest group Extinction Rebellion CREDIT: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP

Despite the disruption, Mr Khan appeared to give the movement his tacit support on Wednesday, while urging activists not to break the law.

In a series of interviews, he said he had a “shared passion” with Extinction Rebellion, and compared their struggle to that of the Suffragettes a century ago.

He added that he “respects fully” the right of activists to protest, and praised organisers for being “extremely cooperative with the authorities”.

In recent months Mr Khan has been accused of losing control of London’s streets, amid a rising tide of violent knife crime.

On Wednesday business leaders accused Scotland Yard of being “too soft” on the protesters, and questioned why the majority had not been moved on. One leading Extinction Rebellion told The Telegraph they had expected the police to be “much tougher”.

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