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Eco-activist who sprayed messages at Defra office to have case sent to the High Court

PUBLISHED: 19:00 04 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:37 05 April 2019

The case will be heard at the High Court. Pic: PA

The case will be heard at the High Court. Pic: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

An eco-activist from Tower Hamlets who sprayed protest messages on a government building has had her case sent to the High Court.

Human rights law student Laura Hughes, 38, is one of five demonstrators, from the Extinction Rebellion group, facing criminal damage charges over the incident at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) last year

She is in the dock alongside agricultural worker Rosie Lancaster, 35, from Herefordshire; student officer Elizabeth Haughton, 23, from Manchester; Christopher Allport, 29, an Army veteran from Yorkshire; and activist Elizabeth Beck, from Manchester.

All five are charged with criminal damage to property under £5,000 contrary to the Criminal Damage Act 1971.

Some 27 climate change protesters were arrested on November 14 during demonstrations in central London.

Protesters painted a wall at a Defra office in Westminster with the message: “Climate emergency. Frack off. Climate breakdown equals starvation” as part of demonstrations across central London which saw 27 people arrested on November 14.

Today District Judge Margot Coleman adjourned proceedings part-heard for six months at City of London Magistrates’ Court so the defendants could pursue an abuse of process argument before the High Court.

Defence counsel had argued there were inconsistencies in how the defendants were treated compared with other similar cases.

Extinction Rebellion argues the acts were proportionate and reasonable given the “severe consequences of inaction” and in line with demonstrators’ rights to free expression and assembly under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Two banners were unfurled from Westminster Bridge reading “Climate Change” and “We’re F*****”.

Activists also tried to block the entrance to Downing Street, holding up food containers reading “food shortages coming”, with some lying on the ground and one gluing himself to a fence.

Extinction Rebellion has staged a series of civil disobedience campaigns to draw attention to what it calls the “unprecedented global emergency” of climate change.

Semi-naked protesters from the campaign group glued themselves to glass in the public gallery of the House of Commons on Monday.

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