Investigation launched after Extinction Rebellion activists’ Parliament protest

·3-min read
Investigation launched after Extinction Rebellion activists’ Parliament protest

Security at Parliament is under review after climate activists posing as tourists superglued themselves around the Speaker’s chair in the House of Commons.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) said around 50 people were involved in the “non-violent” action at the Palace of Westminster, including one who climbed scaffolding inside the parliamentary estate near Westminster Hall.

They said three people booked on an official tour of the building glued themselves in a chain around the Speaker’s chair before they read out a speech in support of a citizens’ assembly to act on climate matters.

The campaign group posted a photo on Twitter showing the three members hand-in-hand in front of the seat, with two other members holding up signs.

Two of its members also used bike locks to chain themselves to the railings at the New Palace Yard entrance gates.

The Metropolitan Police said officers made eight arrests and the incident was concluded after two and a half hours.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle condemned the “disruption” and confirmed police and parliamentary security are conducting a joint investigation into the incident.

An XR activist, who would give his name only as Al from Northamptonshire, said demonstrators had smuggled banners into the Commons chamber in a “bag within a bag”.

He told the PA news agency: “The action today was to form a circle around the Speaker’s chair. People glued themselves around the Speaker’s chair, they didn’t damage the Speaker’s chair in any way, and they glued themselves to each other.”

XR protester Joe Short, from Bristol, locked himself to the railings outside the Houses of Parliament.

He said: “It is part of a bigger protest which is about climate inaction but it is also about a citizens’ assembly which is an alternative form of democracy which could be much more effective at dealing with problems like climate change.”

Asked if he was uncomfortable chained to the railings and surrounded by police officers, Mr Short said: “At the end of the day, in the scheme of things, it is not such an uncomfortable position.”

Extinction Rebellion protest
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators (Aaron Chown/PA)

The Met said in a statement: “Four protesters who were present in the chambers and had glued themselves to each other were de-bonded and arrested. None of these protesters were glued to the Speaker’s chair and there has been no damage to the Speaker’s chair.

“A protester who glued himself to the pavement inside the PoW (Palace of Westminster) was de-bonded and arrested. A protester who climbed onto some scaffolding within the PoW came down of his own volition and was arrested.

“All of the above six individuals were arrested on suspicion of offences under Section 128 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act of 2005.

“Two protesters who locked themselves to the Carriage Gates were removed and arrested for failing to comply with directions under Section 143 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act of 2011. All of those arrested have been taken into custody at central London police stations where they currently remain.

“A police investigation into the incident is now taking place in close liaison with our parliamentary security colleagues to establish the full circumstances of the incident.”

Sir Lindsay added: “It is a real shame that those visitors who made arrangements to join tours of the Palace of Westminster today had their visit disrupted and cancelled.

“Despite the disruption, democratic tours will take place tomorrow.

“A joint investigation into the incident will take place between police and parliamentary security, and I will be providing a further update to the House of Commons at the start of business on Monday.”

The Commons and Lords are in recess until Monday.