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First Extinction Rebellion protesters appear in court

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Dozens of Extinction Rebellion protesters aged between 20 and 76 have appeared at a London court for the first set of legal proceedings.

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Almost 30 climate change activists appeared at the City of London Magistrates’ Court on Friday, marking the first group of demonstrators to face charges in court.

The defendants were asked to enter guilty or not guilty pleas during hearings.

They are accused of failing to comply with an order to stick to an allocated area near Marble Arch in central London.

The hearings, which continued all day in two court rooms simultaneously, recorded a mixture of pleas, resulting in a number of trials scheduled for September and October.

The climate change activists cheered outside of court on Friday (PA)

Out of the 29 pleas entered, eight were guilty and 21 were not guilty.

More than 1,000 activists were arrested over the protest action that brought parts of central London to a standstill in April, and so far 232 files of evidence have been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The Metropolitan Police said in May that they would push for all the 1,151 people arrested, including Olympic gold medal-winning canoeist Etienne Stott, to face charges.

So far 180 have been charged, one cautioned for outraging public decency and 32 released with no further action. The hundreds of others remain under consideration for charges.

The group’s tactics included asking volunteers to deliberately get arrested to cause maximum disruption at roadblocks on Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Marble Arch, while others glued themselves to trains and buildings.

The defendants appearing in court on Friday were charged with knowingly failing to comply with a condition imposed by a senior police officer under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986.

Extinction Rebellion activists Tania Leon (L with glasses), Kate Bull (C, red coat) and Maggie Freegard (R) arrive (Getty Images)

One of the youngest defendants, Peter Tyler, 20, of Muasdale, in Argyll and Bute, pleaded guilty to the offence relating to Waterloo Bridge on April 17 2019.

The oldest defendant Caroline Hunt, 76, of Alfred Place in Bristol also pleaded guilty to the offence relating to Waterloo Bridge on April 21 2019.

Simon Kitt, 25, of Newton Abbot, pleaded guilty to the same offence also relating to Waterloo Bridge on April 21 2019.

Speaking outside court afterwards, Kitt said: “It’s beautiful to see everyone here showing such support for the cause.

“It’s been really nice having everyone around and it just shows the depth of the support that this cause really has.”

Those who pleaded guilty were given conditional discharges.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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