Extinction Rebellion: Three climate activists remanded in custody over London train protest

Chiara Giordano
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Three people have pleaded not guilty to charges relating to climbing on top of a train during climate change protests and have been remanded in custody until next month.

The two men and a woman appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Thursday morning in relation to the incident during Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests at Canary Wharf station in London the previous day.

They have not been granted bail and will remain in custody until they are next due to appear at court on 16 May.

Those charged are Cathy Eastburn, 51, from Lambeth, south London, Mark Ovland, 35, of Somerton, Somerset, and Luke Watson, 29, of Manuden, Essex.

They each face charges of obstructing trains or carriages on the railway by an unlawful act contrary to Section 36 of the Malicious Damage Act 1861.

Dr Gail Bradbrook, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, has warned the protest group will escalate disruption if its demands “are not met” with “thousands more rebels” expected to join demonstrations over the Easter weekend.

It comes after some XR activists glued themselves to a train and others chained themselves to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s garden fence on Wednesday after days of protests.

Scotland Yard said more than 100 people were arrested on Wednesday, bringing the total to almost 400 as ongoing protests continue in Parliament Square, Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Marble Arch.

Activists have said they plan to continue roadblocks, which have affected more than half a million people with traffic gridlock and disruption to transport and businesses since Monday, until at least next Friday.

Robin Boardman-Pattison, 21, who walked off during an interview with Sky News, said activists were planning to step up action on the rail and London Underground network.

“We will be escalating our disruption throughout the week,” he said. “The impact to the Tube system will grow.”

Asked about the protests on the BBC’s The One Show, environment secretary Michael Gove said the government had “got the message”.

He added: “I think it’s appropriate for people to make their feelings known but I also think we’ve got the message, we understand that action needs to be taken.”

XR activists, who are demanding a meeting with the government, say direct action is needed to force authorities to act urgently on climate change and wildlife declines and halt a “sixth mass extinction”.

TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham joined protesters at Oxford Circus on Wednesday, saying: “I believe the world’s leaders are not acting urgently enough to avert a climate catastrophe.

“As long as it is peaceful and democratic then they can count on my support.”

However a YouGov poll suggested public opinion has swung against the protests.

The survey of 3,561 British adults showed 52 per cent either “somewhat oppose” or “strongly oppose” the action, compared with 36 per cent who “strongly support” or “somewhat support” it.

Some Londoners were critical of the group’s methods, which are causing disruption to their lives.

Music student Anouska Stahlmann, 20, said her ill mother and elderly grandparents had to walk part of their journey because of the risk of getting stuck in a tunnel while on the Tube.

“I have no issue with wanting to better the environment and we’re fairly conscious of it as a family,” she said.

“Their methods, however, are seriously flawed and are not inclusive of people who want to support the cause.”

Additional reporting by Press Association