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Extinction Rebellion: Metropolitan Police had 'no option' but to move activists in Oxford Circus, court told

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The Metropolitan Police had “no other option” but to remove Extinction Rebellion activists from Oxford Circus, a court heard today.

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Superintendent Duncan McMillan, who was in charge of operational policing during the demonstrations in April, was giving evidence at the trial of two activists.

Joseph Hesmondhalgh, 20, and Kathryn Shipp, 55, appeared at Hendon Magistrate’s Court.

They both deny breaching a public order notice.

Extinction Rebellion – which was founded in October last year – carried out 12 days of protests in central London earlier this year.

Protestors spent 12 days demonstrating in central London in April (PA)

An order under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 was issued by the police on April 16, which said protestors had to move from Oxford Circus to Marble Arch.

Jacob Bindman, who was defending Shipp, asked the supt. McMillan why the protestors were moved and not restricted to the busy shopping district at Oxford Circus.

Supt. McMillan said: “”I don’t believe they would have listened to me and my officers and, actually, I was right.

“They had a very large boat, sound systems, tents, which were stopping the community going about their business.

“I did consider other conditions but that seemed the best option. They said they were going to remain there no matter what.

“I will always try and balance the rights of the protesters and communities and look for the least impactive option.”

Mr Bindman claimed that a log kept by the Scotland Yard officer only recorded “negative anecdotes” of the protests, reading a discussion in Mr McMillan’s witness statement with a woman who was prohibited from entering Topshop on Oxford Street because of protesters lying down at the entrance.

“There’s no reference where you have recorded, ‘I spoke to someone and they said this is fantastic’, or something on that rationale,” Mr Bindman said.

“You obviously had those conversations, yet in your log you have recorded the negative anecdotes.”

A statement from the officer who arrested Shipp was read to the court by prosecution lawyer Aimee Emby.

It said: “The female acknowledged that I was speaking to her but stated she was potentially listening to the music.

“Others were responding to her and she communicating with them, but ignoring me.

Hesmondhalgh and Shipp were unconditionally bailed to return to the same court at 10am on tomorrow.

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