Five XR protesters are convicted over printing press blockade

Five Extinction Rebellion protesters are convicted over printing press blockade that stopped millions of newspapers being delivered

  • Three men and two women are first to be punished following demonstrations 
  • It comes after several other activists walked free from court on a technicality 
  • The blockades were criticised as an affront to free speech as cost millions 

Five Extinction Rebellion protesters who blockaded printing presses and stopped millions of newspapers being delivered have been convicted of obstruction, it emerged yesterday.

The three men and two women are the first to be punished following the demonstrations outside the Newsprinters plant in Knowsley, Merseyside, in September.

It comes after several other of the activists walked free from court on a technicality earlier this month.

Extinction Rebellion protesters on top of the blockade last September and their sign 

A police van is parked nearby as  Extinction Rebellion block the road in Knowsley, Liverpool to prevent papers going to print

The protest – and another on the same night at a printing plant in Hertfordshire – prevented 1,100 retailers from receiving newspapers including the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Daily Telegraph, and cost publishers £1.2million.

The blockades were criticised as an affront to free speech, with the Prime Minister saying that it was ‘completely unacceptable to seek to limit the public’s access to news in this way’.

The failure of the earlier trial had led to fears that none of the demonstrators who parked a yellow boat and a blue van at the entrance to the Knowsley plant would face punishment.

But last week three men and two women charged with the alternative offence of wilfully obstructing the highway were convicted at Sefton Magistrates’ Court. They included 30-year-old Joel Instone, whose sister Mirian, 22, was among those acquitted, and Adam Haigh, 21.

Vincent Yip, prosecuting, said Instone and Haigh, both of Manchester, had ‘deliberately set out to disrupt and obstruct the lawful business… by blocking the entrance and exit gate by parking a van horizontally across the road’ and locking themselves to the underside of the vehicle.

The protests last year prevented the distribution of half a million newspapers, including the Daily Mail, The Sun, The Times and The Daily Telegraph

Both men were given a conditional discharge for 18 months and ordered to pay £500 compensation to Newsprinters, which is owned by News International.

A third defendant, Deborah Ehrenberg, 60, of Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty and was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £500 compensation.

Earlier in the week, Lucy Walsh, 24, and Green Party candidate Patrick Thelwell, 21, were also convicted of the same charge. Thelwell, of York, who has a similar previous conviction, was handed a conditional discharge for two years and ordered to pay £500 damages. Walsh, of York, was given a 12-month conditional discharge and told to pay £320.

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