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Heathrow ‘working with authorities’ amid protests disruption threat

More than 1,000 police officers a day have been deployed to deal with the demonstrations.

An Extinction Rebellion demonstrator is carried away by police at Oxford Circus (Jonathan Brady/PA)
An Extinction Rebellion demonstrator is carried away by police at Oxford Circus (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Heathrow Airport has said it is “working with the authorities” to deal with the threat of protests which could disrupt flights over the Easter weekend.

The statement came amid speculation that Extinction Rebellion activists would “shut down Heathrow”.

Sajid Javid said more than 1,000 police officers a day have been deployed to deal with the demonstrations in the capital as he urged police to use the “full force of the law”.

The Home Secretary condemned activists who are breaking the law as organisers threatened to escalate the group’s tactics if their demands are not met.

Scotland Yard has arrested at least 428 protesters amid ongoing demonstrations across four locations in central London, comprising Waterloo Bridge, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus and Parliament Square.

Cathy Eastburn, 51, Mark Ovland, 35, and Luke Watson, 29, were remanded in custody after they were charged over their alleged involvement in obstructing trains at Canary Wharf station on Wednesday morning.

All three indicated a not guilty plea when they appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court.

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Climate activists surround a pink boat that has been parked during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration at Oxford Circus (Yui Mok/PA)

There was speculation Heathrow Airport would become the target for protests on Friday with around 500,000 people expected to fly out for Easter breaks over the bank holiday weekend.

A Heathrow spokesman said: “We are working with the authorities to address any threat of protests which could disrupt the airport.”

Speaking after a briefing with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick on Thursday, Mr Javid said she had told him that more than 1,000 officers were being deployed to the streets of the capital each day of the protests.

He said: “Over recent days, commuters trying to earn a living have been unable to travel to work and businesses have been disrupted.

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A climate activist is led away by police officers from an Extinction Rebellion demonstration at Oxford Circus (Yui Mok/PA)

“Emergency vehicles have faced difficulties navigating the road networks and the demonstrations have put added pressure on police officers whose job it is to solve crimes and protect the public.

“Let me be clear – I totally condemn any protesters who are stepping outside the boundaries of the law.

“They have no right to cause misery for the millions of people who are trying to lead their daily lives. Unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated.

“I expect the police to take a firm stance and use the full force of the law.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has written a letter to the Home Secretary about the increasing cost of policing a growing number of protests in London and is working with the Met to consider making a special grant claim over the current demonstrations.

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A climate activist knits during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration at Oxford Circus (Yui Mok/PA)

The fourth day of protests – which have seen activists glue themselves to public transport and block bridges and major roads across the capital – began with a challenge to Environment Secretary Michael Gove to meet with activists at Parliament Square to find a solution to the issue.

And organisers said they expected even more people to join the protests, with a statement – which was later deleted – adding: “Easter weekend is tomorrow and thousands more rebels will join.

“Police struggle to arrest 350 and there are 10 times that number prepared to be arrested.

“The hollowed-out British state is overwhelmed.”

It’s certainly an option that tactics will be escalated if our demands are not met Dr Gail Bradbrook, XR co-founder

Speaking from Waterloo Bridge, Dr Gail Bradbrook, a co-founder of the XR group, said demonstrators would continue to act despite the first people being charged over the disruption.

“It (the charges) might put some people off and we escalated our strategy by focusing on the rail infrastructure,” she told the Press Association.

“It’s certainly an option that tactics will be escalated if our demands are not met,” she said.

PA

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