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Fury as Diane Abbott claims Extinction Rebellion newspaper blockaders are doing nothing illegal despite 80 arrests

DIANE Abbott has sparked fury after defending Extinction Rebellion blockades at newsprinters over the weekend as "legal" despite the 80 arrests.

Dominic Raab slammed the former shadow Home Secretary saying her comparison of the eco-extremists to the suffragettes was "perverse".




When asked about the protesters who disrupted the supply of millions of newspapers on Friday night Ms Abbott told Sophy Ridge on Sky: "I think it's important to remind ourselves that direct actions which is what those actions were are actually legal.

"These are legal tactics and we don't want to talk as if it's not illegal to take direct actions because direct action has been legal since the time of the suffragettes."

More than 80 people were arrested at the two blockades at Newsprinters at Broxbourne and Knowsley, preventing the newspapers from leaving the plant.

Merseyside Police said they had arrested 30 people, while Hertfordshire Police said they had taken 50 people into custody.

But the Foreign Secretary slammed Ms Abbotts comments, saying: "The idea that it is right to damage property or to intervene with free press in the name of progressive protests is perverse.

"I respect the right of peaceful protests but highjacking that with a militant agenda to disrupt the very heart of democratic debate through free media is just totally wrong and law enforcement action is."

The PM declared the action which seeks to interfere with free speech “completely unacceptable”  after 150 protests laid siege to two major printing plants to "send a message about global warning".

It left three million readers without their morning paper yesterday — on a day they would have read Sir David Attenborough writing about climate change in The Sun.

When asked if Home Secretary Priti Patel's plans to name Extinction Rebellion as an organised crime group, Ms Abbott said: "That would be ridiculous."

She even compared the eco-extremists to the suffragettes, who campaigned for women's right to vote.

She added: "They're not criminals, they are protestors and activists in tradition of the suffragettes and the hunger marches of the 1930s."

Ms Abbott's defence of the protesters come after Labour MP Dawn Butler congratulated them for stopping Brits' access to newspapers, before being forced to delete the tweet after mass condemnation.

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