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High Court grants Extinction Rebellion to challenge London-wide ban on protests

THE High Court has granted permission for Extinction Rebellion (XR) to challenge a London-wide ban on environmental protests.

A judicial review will be heard this afternoon with Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour’s Clive Lewis among the claimants.

Their lawyers will criticise a controversial Metropolitan Police order which seeks to halt further protests.

At least 1,642 people have been arrested in 10 days of continuous non-violent disruption by XR activists across the capital.

Under the revised section 14 order issued on Monday, police can now make arrests at any gathering of two or more XR activists inside the M25 — even if they are peaceful and not breaking the law.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said they would be contacting the Met Police regarding the order.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “I think it’s important to protect the right of free speech and the right to demonstrate in our society — obviously in a non-violent way.”

Ms Abbott also said she would be writing to Home Secretary Priti Patel to challenge her on the “outrageous” ban.

The Met’s deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor, who is leading the policing of the demonstrations, said he is “completely comfortable” with the action the force has taken.

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted today: “If standing up against the climate and ecological breakdown and for humanity is against the rules then the rules must be broken.”

Meanwhile thousands of protesters have defied the police and regrouped in Trafalgar Square yesterday and today, despite having been cleared out of the area late on Monday night.

Some today had black tape over their mouths to symbolise being silenced by the authorities.

This led to several arrests including of Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley and Guardian journalist George Monbiot, who is also a claimant in the judicial review.

Mr Bartley was making a speech when police lifted him from the ground and arrested him for obstructing the highway.

A government spokesman said that while they share concerns on global warming and respect the right to peaceful protest, “it should not disrupt people’s day-to-day lives.”

XR activists plan to continue their action until the end of the week, with protests set to target the Tube network tomorrow.

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