A Welsh Conservative MS has branded Extinction Rebellion a “neo-fascist” and “extremist” organisation after they blocking access to three printing presses owned by Rupert Murdoch.
Protesters targeted Newsprinters presses at Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, Knowsley in Merseyside, and near Motherwell, North Lanarkshire.
The presses print 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.
Demonstrators have accused the papers of deliberately ignoring climate change, saying that a “handful of powerful billionaires” had “failed to tell the truth about the climate crisis”.
But Janet Finch-Saunders, who represents Aberconwy in the Senedd, said that their actions “in targeting a free press” were “beyond the bounds of acceptable political protest”.
She called on the Welsh Government not to engage with the organisation.
“As Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Energy and Rural Affairs I have declined to meet with the extremist and neo-fascist organisation Extinction Rebellion,” she said.
“Their actions today are a dangerous example of hatred and intimidation which has no place in politics and I am also suggesting that all Welsh Conservative candidates for next year’s Welsh Parliament elections do not engage with them either.
“In doing so, I have the support of Paul Davies MS as leader of my party in the Welsh Parliament. He has met with them previously but will not do so again.
“I am aware that the Welsh Government, including First Minister Mark Drakeford, has held three meetings with Extinction Rebellion. I will be requesting details of the attendees at previous meetings since I am aware that one of Extinction Rebellion’s organisers, Roger Hallam, is based in Wales and is on the record as calling for business people and governments to have ‘a bullet in the head.’ Hallam did not meet Paul Davies MS.
“The Welsh Government must follow the Welsh Conservative lead and break off all contact and engagement with Extinction Rebellion as an organisation committed to ending a free press, intimidating individuals, and threatening violence and death.
“The Extinction Rebellion movement needs to be de-legitimised and regarded as dangerous and criminal.”
Writing on their website, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion said they were drawing attention to the “disgraceful true colours of our ‘free’ press:”.
“What we read in the papers is controlled by a handful of powerful billionaires who feed us stories that suit their interests,” they said.
“The Truth about the terrifying emergency we face has been locked up for too long by corrupt media moguls and dodgy politicians, who jostle for power and undermine our democracy.
“Today, we threw a spanner in Rupert Murdoch’s business as usual. He, along with his billionaire buddies, have failed to tell the truth about the climate crisis.”
Extinction Rebellion used vehicles to block roads to the printing plants, while individual protesters chained themselves to structures.
Vans were covered with banners with messages including “Free the truth” and “Refugees are welcome here”.
Hertfordshire Police said officers were called to Great Eastern Road near the Broxbourne plant at about 22:00 BST, where they found about 100 protesters who had “secured themselves to structures and one another”.
By 06:00 delivery lorries had still been unable to leave the site to distribute papers.
Officers said 50 people had been arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance.
Chief Constable Charlie Hall said the group’s action had been “an intentionally disruptive and unacceptable protest that had been pre-planned and carefully co-ordinated to create prolonged disruption to local businesses”.