Almost two dozen people have been arrested after an Extinction Rebellion “free the press” protest in central London saw manure dumped outside the offices of the Daily Mail newspaper.
The Metropolitan Police said 23 arrests were made, including a handful of protesters who emptied manure from a truck outside a property in Young Street, Kensington, at around 6.40am on Sunday.
The force said the group “climbed scaffolding on the outside of the building and hung banners from it”.
Environmental protest group Extinction Rebellion said it had made a “surprise visit” to Northcliffe House, the head office of the newspaper’s owners Daily Mail and General Trust, and claimed to have dumped seven tonnes of horse manure outside the main entrance.
Five people were arrested for an offence under Section 148 of the Highways Act, with four of the five also arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage, police said.
Extinction Rebellion said members had also visited the building housing the Daily Telegraph newspaper but were stopped before they could dump more manure.
The Met said a 54-year-old man attempted to empty manure from a truck on to the pavement outside a commercial premises in Buckingham Palace Road, Victoria, at around 8am.
It added: “Had he succeeded, it would have caused disruption to employees and members of the public.
“Proactive police intervention prevented him from dumping the manure.”
The man was arrested for an offence under Section 148 of the Highways Act and on suspicion of dangerous driving.
The group later posted a video of a small number of activists spraying paint on the News Corp building at London Bridge, before they were swiftly detained by police.
The Met said a “small group” remained in Westminster by around 8pm but that the protests had finished.
The force said: “Today’s demonstrations have now concluded. A small group remain in the area of Westminster and police remain with them.
“A total of 23 people were arrested as a result of the proactive operation by police.”
The protest action comes as Extinction Rebellion launched a “day of protest” targeting the “four billionaire owners of 68% of the UK’s print media” referring to News UK owner Rupert Murdoch, DMGT’s Lord Rothermere, The Telegraph’s Sir Frederick Barclay and Evening Standard and Independent owner Baron Evgeny Lebedev.
The group said they were “demanding an end to media corruption that suppresses the truth from the public for profit”.
Speaking for the group, Gully Bujak said: “For the British public, who’ve seen the criminal behaviour of this Government and their ‘cronies’ throughout the pandemic, the conclusion must surely be clear: the arenas of power in this country are rotten, and where the billionaire-owned press is concerned – corruption is the business model.
“It’s time they cut the crap and stop acting as though they are providing a noble service to the public, while greenwashing the climate crisis and stoking the culture war to divide people.”
Extinction Rebellion shared photos and video on social media of “free the press” protesters marching through London and gathering in Parliament Square.
People carried placards, waved flags and chanting, while bands also played.
Picture: PA Media/Extinction Rebellion