Swindon activist accused of damaging centuries-old da Vinci painting

Protestors at the Royal Academy. Photo: PA
Protestors at the Royal Academy. Photo: PA

A Just Stop Oil protester from Swindon has been charged with damaging a Leonardo da Vinci painting.

Tristan Strange is accused of causing £180 of criminal damage after allegedly damaging ‘The Last Supper’ at the Royal Academy of Art in London on July 5.

The charge alleges he “damaged the frame to a copy of ‘The Last Supper’ to the value of £180 belonging to The Royal Academy of Art intending to destroy or damage such property or being reckless as to whether such property would be destroyed or damaged”.

In the protest by Just Stop Oil, the words ‘No New Oil’ were spray-painted in white underneath the famous painting.

Community organiser Strange, of Tennyson Street, was due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (October 5), but was unable to attend due to the rail strike, the Daily Mail reported.

Two of his co-defendants, art student Jessica Agar, 22, and ex-teacher Lucy Porter, 47, were also not in attendance.

The trio had their cases pushed back until November 2.

Meanwhile, Simon Bramwell, 50, who is the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, and Caspar Hughes, 51, both pleaded not guilty to criminal damage.

It is alleged protestors used glue to attach themselves to the frame.

Bramwell asked the court to dismiss the case on the basis that it is not in the public interest, and that current laws are “inadequate” to deal with the “crisis”.

“I'm going to be a bit of a headache for you representing myself and I was also going to ask this court if the case could be dismissed in itself as its not in the public interest,” The Mail reports he told the court.

“My defence is that our protest is due to the fact that at the present time our current laws are inadequate to deal with the crisis as the scale of crisis is currently engulfing humanity.”

But the case was adjourned pending a trial.

Bramwell, of Wokingham, Hughes, of Exeter, Agar, of Hereford, Porter, of Leeds, and Strange will stand trial at City of London Magistrates Court on December 6.

According to the Mail, the Royal Academy’s copy of the Last Supper was painted by one or more of da Vinci’s pupils in around 1515-20, and is believed to be the most accurate record of the original.

Just Stop Oil is a campaign group wanting government to end all new licences for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK.