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Greenpeace activists released on bail after scaling roof of Rishi Sunak’s North Yorkshire home

North Yorkshire Police, who have come under criticism following the incident at the prime minister’s mansion, said their investigation “remains ongoing” after releasing five anti-oil activists on bail.

Greenpeace protesters on the roof of Rishi Sunak’s mansion in North Yorkshire0:49
Greenpeace activists who scaled Rishi Sunak’s North Yorkshire home in protest against the government’s decision to expand North Sea oil drilling have been released on police bail.

Four people were arrested after they used ladders and ropes to climb on the grade II-listed manor house in Kirby Sigston and drape oil-black fabric over the property.

A fifth activist was later arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance in connection with the stunt.

In an update this morning, North Yorkshire Police said: “All five suspects who were arrested following the protest in Kirby Sigston on 3 August, have been released on conditional police bail to allow for further enquiries to be carried out.

“The investigation remains ongoing.”

The campaigners climbed on to the roof at around 8am on Thursday, while Mr Sunak, his wife and children were on holiday in California, and stayed there until around 1.15pm, when they were arrested.

The protest has led to fresh concerns around MPs’ security, with a former police chief calling for an “investigation into how this has been allowed to happen”.

Peter Walker, who stepped down as North Yorkshire Police’s deputy chief constable in 2003, said he was “absolutely astonished” the protesters gained access to the prime minister’s house.

He told LBC radio: “It is clearly in my view a major breach of security.”

However Greenpeace today insisted the protest was a “proportionate response to a disastrous decision” amid criticism from both Tory and Labour MPs.

Areeba Hamid, co-executive director of Greenpeace, told Sky News: “It was an empty home. We wouldn’t have done it if he was there because our intention was to draw attention to the fact that what he’s doing on climate is actually a big disaster, rather than to talk about his family or where he lives.”

Greenpeace activists on the roof of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s house in Richmond, North Yorkshire after covering it in black fabric in protest at his backing for expansion of North Sea oil and gas drilling. Picture date: Thursday August 3, 2023.
Greenpeace was acting in protest against the prime minister’s plans to allow 100 new licences to be granted for further development of North Sea oil and gas off the coast of Scotland.

The group said the move will be a “disaster” for the environment and hinder efforts to reach net zero – a crucial climate target which relies on cutting down greenhouse gas emissions.

Protester Alex Wilson, who was on the roof, released a video message from the scene of the protest, saying: “We’re all here because Rishi Sunak has opened the door to a new drilling frenzy in the North Sea while large parts of our world are literally on fire.

“This will be a disaster for the climate.”

On the ground, Greenpeace campaigner Philip Evans defended the decision to target the PM’s home, saying they had made sure Mr Sunak’s family were on holiday.

He said the group had knocked on the door when they arrived and said “this is a peaceful protest” but there was no answer.

Mr Evans added: “Rishi Sunak’s government has been the worst government we’ve had on climate.”

Greenpeace activists have climbed to the roof of RIshi Sunak’s home. Pic: Greenpeace

Sunak is a ‘climate arsonist’, Greenpeace campaigner says

Greenpeace has said it is also carrying out its protest because Mr Sunak has indicated he will approve drilling at Rosebank – the UK’s largest undeveloped oil field.

The group says the move “flies in the face of multiple warnings from the government’s own climate advisers, the International Energy Agency and the UN secretary general that any new fossil fuel projects risk tipping the world into the danger zone above 1.5C of warming”.

Mr Evans said: “We desperately need our prime minister to be a climate leader, not a climate arsonist.

“Sunak is even willing to peddle the old myth about new oil and gas helping ordinary people struggling with energy bills when he knows full well it’s not true.

“More North Sea drilling will only benefit oil giants who stand to make even more billions from it, partly thanks to a giant loophole in Sunak’s own windfall tax.”

Greenpeace activists are led away by police after they climbed on the roof of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s house in Richmond, North Yorkshire and covered it in black fabric in protest at his backing for expansion of North Sea oil and gas drilling. Picture date: Thursday August 3, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Sunak. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Greenpeace activists are led away by police after they climbed on the roof of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s house in Richmond, North Yorkshire and covered it in black fabric in protest at his backing for expansion of North Sea oil and gas drilling. Picture date: Thursday August 3, 2023.
‘Plonkers’

But Labour, who oppose the oil and gas license expansion, said “targeting someone’s home in that way is disgraceful and unacceptable”.

Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, who is standing in for Mr Sunak during his holiday, said more oil and gas is needed as part of our “energy mix” as he hit out the “stupid stunt”.

Speaking about the protest while on a visit to Able Seaton Port in Hartlepool he said: “I think what most people would say is ‘can you stop the stupid stunts’, actually what they want to see from government is action.

“That’s what you’re seeing here today, the world’s largest offshore wind farm being built right here, creating jobs.

“But at the same time we’re going to need in the coming decades oil and gas as part of our energy mix.

“The question is do we produce it here, where we get more tax, we create more jobs, or do we do what the Labour and others say which is say ‘no more investment in our North Sea oil and gas’?”

Alicia Kearns, the senior Tory who chairs the Commons foreign affairs committee, called the protest “unacceptable”.

She said: “Politicians live in the public eye and rightly receive intense scrutiny, but their family homes should not be under assault.

“Before long police will need to be stationed outside the home of every MP.”

Government minister Alex Burghart called the activists “plonkers”.

Conservative backbencher Brendan Clarke-Smith said: “MPs and their families have enough to worry about with their security without extremist groups and their spoilt activists pulling stunts like this at their homes to promote their unrealistic, extravagant demands and student union-level politics.”

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