Extinction Rebellion responds to energy and arms lobbyist Lord Walney’s proposals to effectively ban protest groups which threaten his clients profits - Extinction Rebellion UK

Extinction Rebellion responds to energy and arms lobbyist Lord Walney’s proposals to effectively ban protest groups which threaten his clients profits

press@extinctionrebellion.uk | +44(0)7756136396

In response to the publication today of the government-commissioned report Protecting our Democracy from Coercion [1] by energy and arms Lobbyist Lord Walney, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion said:

“We are a movement committed to non violence. We train everyone acting in the name of Extinction Rebellion in non violence. We have stewards to manage crowds responsibly. We have a policy for how to clear an area for emergency services. If the government can come for a group that works this hard at peaceful protest, they can come for anyone.”

“It is shameful for the Home Secretary to commission a supposedly ‘independent’ report from someone who acts as a lobbyist for both the fossil fuel companies and the arms companies whose profits are threatened by the activities of the groups he is targeting.”

“The real extremists undermining our democracy are the fossil fuel companies that have been fighting climate action for 40 years,[2] capturing our politicians and keeping us locked into a 3C pathway that is already causing widespread death and suffering and will lead to the loss of everything we love. And the government is complicit in this.”

Lord Walney:

  • Is a paid adviser to the Purpose Business Coalition, whose members include BP
  • Is a paid adviser to lobbyists Rud Pederson whose clients include fossil fuel giant Glencore
  • Chairs the Purpose Defence Coalition, whose members include Leonardo, one of the world’s largest arms manufacturers, with extensive links to the Israeli government, and which was the subject of a Palestine Action demo last November [3]

None of the groups mentioned in the report were given the right of reply to any of the allegations made in the report. An attempt by Bindman’s solicitors to give Palestine Action the right of reply to claims in the report before publication was deemed “unnecessary” by a government lawyer. That was because the report was shielded from any challenge by being laid before parliament “in a break from standard practice” as a “motion for unopposed return” which gives the report the “protection of parliamentary privilege, meaning anyone or any group named in the report will be unable to claim they have been defamed by its contents.”

Shami Chakrabarti, a Labour peer and human rights advocate said the government was hiding “behind arcane procedure and abuse of parliamentary privilege. There is no reason at all why groups and the people they represent should not have had the opportunity to answer damaging charges made against them in this heavily trailed report.”

Caroline Lucas MP raised a point of order today in the House Of Commons suggesting that the financial interests of the report author should have been flagged to the House. The speaker acknowledged that Lucas “makes a serious and valid point about the way in which the matter has been presented.”[4]

The report’s recommendations include creating a new category of ‘extreme protest groups’ whose ability to fundraise and right to assemble could be withdrawn, effectively rendering them unable to function.

The publication of the report comes the same day as the High Court agreed with Liberty that the government used undemocratic means to change protest laws against the will of parliament and that this was unlawful. [5]

Notes for editors

[1] Protecting our Democracy from Coercion: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/66462426b7249a4c6e9d3687/E03131940_HC_775_Walney_Review_v02_PRINT.pdf

[2] Big Oil vs the World tells the 40 year story of how the oil industry delayed action on climate change: https://www.bbc.com/mediacentre/2022/big-oil-vs-the-world

[3] REVEALED: CONFLICTS OF INTEREST OF ‘ADVISER’ PROPOSING ACTIVIST BAN: https://planb.earth/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/PR-WALNEY-REPORT.pdf

Byline Times: https://bylinetimes.com/2024/05/17/government-independent-advisor-who-backs-ban-on-climate-and-palestine-groups-has-paid-roles-with-defence-and-business-lobbyists/

The Guardian:

Emily Maitlis & Jon Sopel quiz Lord Walney: https://x.com/Pal_action/status/1791418513044750707

The Telegraph: https://archive.ph/CCHii

[4] https://x.com/AdamBienkov/status/1792917896512844197

[5] COURT FINDS GOVERNMENT ANTI-PROTEST LEGISLATION UNLAWFUL AFTER LIBERTY LEGAL CHALLENGE: https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/issue/court-finds-government-anti-protest-legislation-unlawful-after-liberty-legal-challenge/

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