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British government adviser over destructive protests accused of conflict of interest | protest

British government adviser over destructive protests accused of conflict of interest |  protest

 


Activists have accused the government's independent adviser on political violence of a conflict of interest after it was revealed he had lobbying ties with companies that could benefit from limiting protests.

Former Labor MP and now crossbench peer John Woodcock has prepared a review into the far left's participation in disruptive protests, including activism against climate change and war. At the same time, he has chaired and advised lobbying groups representing arms manufacturers and fossil fuel companies.

Woodcock's review is due to be published next week, more than three years after it was commissioned. He said over the weekend that among about 40 recommendations he would propose bans on at least two protest groups, including climate activists Just Stop Oil and Palestine Action Against arms companies that supply the Israeli military.

The organization could be banned, which could limit its ability to raise funds and its right to assemble in the UK. The Guardian has not yet seen a copy of the report.

Woodcock's entry in the Lords' Register of Interests shows he was paid to act as chairman of the Business Alliance for Purpose, an organization run by public relations and lobbying firm Crowne Associates whose clients include oil company BP and arms company Leonardo.

According to the register, he is also a paid adviser to Rud Pedersen Public Affairs, another lobbying firm that represents Glencore, a Swiss mining company with coal interests, and Enwell Energy, which bills itself as a very concentrated oil and gas business.

In theory, everyone could welcome protest restrictions on their operations. In particular, Leonardo has been conducting an ongoing protest campaign under Palestine Action, including occupying factories with damaged equipment and graffiti on the entrance to its London headquarters.

Huda Ammori, a Palestine Action campaigner who helped expose the link, said: Our government is complicit in the ongoing massacre in Gaza but we must stop producing British weapons used against Palestinians. It is our duty to take direct action to protect them. people.

The Government's claim that Lord Walney is an independent adviser is bogus.

The Ministry of Defense in London was sprayed with red paint during a joint protest by Palestine Action with Youth Demand demanding that the British government stop selling arms to Israel and stop oil and gas drilling. Photo: Martin Pope/Getty Images

Tim Crosland, executive director of Plan B, a climate litigation group, said Walney's recommendations are not surprising because they serve the vested corporate interests he represents.

A Just Stop Oil spokesperson said: Last week the government's climate strategy was declared illegal for the second time. In the same week, they received permits for 31 new oil projects. Our government has been bought by the fossil fuel lobby and arms dealers. It is becoming increasingly clear that they are the real criminals.

In response to these accusations, Woodcock said: Over the three years I have conducted this review, I have consistently applied objective criteria and pursued a broad range of perspectives, including formal calls for evidence and analysis of public opinion through opinion polls.

I now look forward to publication of the independent analysis and recommendations in my extensive report. My non-parliamentary interests are declared as necessary and past positions are a matter of record.

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John Woodcock was a Labor MP until 2018. Photo: Chris McAndrew

Woodcock served as a Labor MP until 2018, when he resigned from the party amid an investigation into allegations he had sent inappropriate text messages to a female aide, which he denied. He urged voters to support the Conservative Party in 2019, and the following year Boris Johnson made him a life peer.

Soon after, he was appointed the government's independent adviser on political violence and chaos and was commissioned to write a review of the protests following Extinction Rebellion, Black Lives Matter and the anti-lockdown protests that rocked Britain before and during the Covid pandemic. .

It was nominally an investigation into the increased activity and prominence of the far right, far left and other political groups, but he told the Telegraph at the time that it would focus on what he described as progressive extremism.

He said that there was a blind spot because these activities were carried out in the name of progressive causes, such as climate change and racial discrimination, that political power and the majority of the public had great sympathy for.

Woodcock said he submitted a 100,000-word report, titled Protecting Our Democracy from Coercion, to officials in December after a delay to allow Israel to consider mass protests in London calling for an end to its campaign in Gaza.

In recent months, he has made several recommendations for the media, including a ban on wearing masks at protests, new police powers to end protests near Congress and the Capitol, and no-protest zones around weapons plants and fossil fuel infrastructure. Tracked it.

But the most controversial of the proposals is a proposal for the government to enact some kind of ban on groups that regularly break the law as part of a protest strategy.

According to the Daily Mail, the government should introduce mechanisms to limit the activities of organizations with a policy of using criminal activity to influence government or public debate, a Woodcocks report found.

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