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“The government is not protecting us” – letter

150 public figures have slammed the UK government and media for putting vested interests ahead of the public interest.

Signed by Stephen Fry, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Mark Rylance, among many others, the letter criticises the government’s attempt to brand Extinction Rebellion as an “organised crime group”.

The UK home secretary Priti Patel proposed the legal classification shortly after XR blockaded four national billionaire-owned newspapers.

Instead, the open letter, published in the Observer, states: XR is “a group of people who are holding the powerful to account” and should not become targets of “vitriol and anti-democratic posturing”.

The letter states: “For the past 30 years there’s been a woeful lack of serious reporting on the climate and ecological emergency due to the billionaire owners’ vested interests, and a lack of understanding from reporters, to editors to senior executives, about the severity and scale of the crisis. This has meant a terrifying delay on action to combat climate change.”

It adds, “Extinction Rebellion has helped push the government’s failure to act on the climate and ecological emergency into the public eye. Whether or not we agree with their tactics or targets, by blocking printing presses and delaying newspaper distribution, they have connected the dots of a broken system.”

The sculptor Antony Gormley, among the signatories, said: “[XR is] being used as a scapegoat for climate inaction, and it’s ridiculous to be calling them criminals when actually it is lackadaisical and inept actions of the government and indeed, those in charge of massive corporations, that should be doing much, much more.”

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