On Friday, XR protesters targeted Newsprinters printing, blocking the day’s newspapers from leaving the depots. Boris Johnson has branded the groups actions ‘completely unacceptable’ and attack on press freedom. By Michael Delaney.
Free the truth
Climate activists, Extinction Rebellion (XR), seek to disrupt and draw attention to the impending climate crisis.
Over the weekend, more than 100 protesters targeted newspaper printers presses at Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, Knowsley in Merseyside, and near Motherwell, North Lanarkshire.
The presses print the News Corp titles including the Sun, the Times, the Sun on Sunday, the Sunday Times, and the Scottish Sun. They also print the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, and the London Evening Standard.
They erected banners inscribed with the slogan “FREE THE TRUTH” to criticise the media outlet’s silence on the environmental emergency.
War of words
PM, Boris Johnson, criticised the group’s tactics for threatening the freedom of the press.
Rumours have circulated that the Home Office is considering reclassifying XR as an organised crime gang, following their latest escapade.
Labour minister, Diane Abbott, has criticised the govt’s proposed response as “ridiculous”, comparing the group to the Suffragettes.
Foreign Sec. Dominic Raab has also got stuck into the debate, telling Sky News: “The idea that it is right to damage property or intervene with a free press in the name of progressive protest is, I think, perverse.”
The grey areas
The govt’s defence of the ‘free press’ is admirable, but not without its usual pinch of hypocrisy.
Just this weekend, the Council of Europe – a group that Britain was a founding member of, which monitors human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe and is responsible for overseeing the European Convention of Human Rights – issued a Level 2 “media freedom alert” after MoD press officers refused to deal with Declassified UK, a website focusing on foreign and defence policy stories.
In doing so, the MoD denied the freedom of information requests and is alleged to have ‘blacklisted’ the journalists concerned.
Not exactly supportive of a free press, in this case.
What do you make of the events over the weekend – are XR’s actions an attack on the free press?
Do you buy the govt’s response in defending the free press?
Share your thoughts, and email us at email@example.com.