Just Stop Oil activists spray paint on Aston Martin showroom to 'defy' Suella Braverman
Harry Fawcett reports on the Just Stop Oil protests taking place ahead of the Public Order Bill returning to the House of Commons
Just Stop Oil protesters have sprayed paint over a luxury car showroom to "defy" the home secretary, who unveiled plans for a major crackdown on activism hours earlier.
On Sunday, the campaigners blocked Park Lane in central London, before one protester sprayed orange paint over the nearby Aston Martin showroom in Park Lane. It's the latest in a series of stunts from the activists, who want to pressure the government into halting all new oil and gas licences and consents.
Hours before the protest, new home secretary Suella Braverman revealed plans for a major crackdown on the kinds of protests favoured by climate activists.
Ms Braverman said she will give the police new powers to take a more “proactive” approach to some protests, with some of the measures specifically targeted at the tactics used by some environmental groups.
Later on Sunday, Just Stop Oil tweeted that they protested on Park Lane in order to “defy” the Cabinet minister. Protesters from the group threw tins of tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting in the National Gallery earlier in the week. They also sprayed paint over the rotating New Scotland Yard sign.
The campaign group said it will also be protesting outside Downing Street every day in October.
More than 350 Just Stop Oil protesters have been arrested in London since the start of October, according to Home Office figures.
Ms Braverman had already voiced her opposition to specific types of protest, telling the Tory conference earlier this month there is “not a human right to vandalise property”.
Accusing protesters of draining police resources, Ms Braverman will use the government’s Public Order Bill to allow secretaries of state to apply for injunctions in the “public interest” where protests are causing or threatening “serious disruption or a serious adverse impact on public safety”.
According to the Home Office, this will include protecting access to “essential” goods, services and “key” infrastructure.
Ms Braverman said: “I will not bend to protestors attempting to hold the British public to ransom."
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The Home Office said the proposed public order legislation would create a new criminal offence of interfering with infrastructure such as oil refineries, airports, railways and printing presses.
Such an offence would carry a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.
“Locking on” or “going equipped to lock-on” to other people, objects or buildings to cause “serious disruption” could see people imprisoned for six months or hit with an unlimited fine.
The Public Order Bill will return to Parliament next week and Ms Braverman said it is “high time” MPs back it.
The government is pressing ahead with legal moves to introduce minimum service levels during strikes by transport workers. The announcement follows months of industrial action by railway workers in bitter disputes over pay, jobs and conditions which has caused travel chaos across the country.
Legislation will be introduced following Prime Minister Liz Truss’s commitment to bring in such a Bill within her first 30 days of Parliament sitting. The aim is to ensure transport services including rail, tubes and buses cannot be completely shut down when workers go on strike. The Government said it expects that minimum service levels will come into force in 2023.