The Labour Party has said it is “wrong” that South East counter-terror police guidance listed environmental protest network Extinction Rebellion as an extremist group.
“It is quite wrong to list Extinction Rebellion as an extremist group, and the government knows it,” Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott commented this afternoon.
It was recently revealed by The Guardian that non-violent organisation ‘XR’ had been included on a list of ideologies that should be reported to the authorities running the Prevent programme.
A 12-page guide produced by counter-terrorism police reportedly said that issues to look out for included people who speak in “strong or emotive terms about environmental issues like climate change, ecology, species extinction, fracking, airport expansion or pollution”.
Responding to the news, Abbott said: “There is a world of difference between a genuine security or terrorist threat and the mild inconvenience caused by people legally and peacefully protesting. This is about the broader rights to assembly and to protest.”
“The decision also further damages the tarnished image of the Prevent programme and reinforces the idea that it is not aimed at stopping terrorism, but is a state intervention into communities and groups that the government believes are suspect.”
Labour leadership candidate and former chief prosecutor Keir Starmer also branded the decision as “completely wrong and counterproductive”, as Home Secretary Priti Patel defended the move.
Asked about the condemnation of former Prevent head Sir Peter Fahy, Patel said: “When it comes to anti-terrorism, Prevent and the work that the government is doing, and has done for a considerable period of time – we are constantly looking at individuals, groups.
“That’s right and that’s proper. But everything has to be based and calibrated upon risk. Sir Peter Fahy has made one comment. Quite frankly, I look at a range of security risks.”