England

Extinction Rebellion: Ex-government adviser fined over climate protest

Officers surround the pink boat at Oxford Circus Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A camp was set up on Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus was blockaded with a pink boat

A former government adviser has been fined for his part in the Extinction Rebellion protests which brought parts of London to a standstill.

Dr Steven Melia, 57, broke down as he told a court that his actions were a justified response to a "catastrophic" climate emergency.

Melia was found guilty of two counts of failing to comply with a condition to disperse protesters.

He was among thousands who demonstrated across the capital in April.

As part of the protests, a camp was set up on Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus was blockaded with a pink boat.

Melia, a senior lecturer at the University of the West of England in Bristol, has previously advised the government on eco-towns.

'No hope left'

Melia, of Ferrymans Court in St Philips, Bristol, was fined £500 and told to pay £300 in costs.

At Westminster Magistrates' Court, Judge Richard Blake told him: "I'm satisfied that there was an opportunity for freedom of expression without the commission of these offences."

The judge said the right to demonstrate was "fundamental to a free society" but it must remain "within the law".

He said he had no doubt that Melia "strongly believes" in a climate emergency, adding: "He's not a man who has lightly taken this step."

Melia, who represented himself at the trial, had to pause after he began crying while saying that current action against climate change was "not enough, it's not working".

The lecturer told the court: "I never even had a parking ticket before I stopped driving 10 years ago. I have always paid my taxes, obeyed the law, so it was a big step to do this.

"There really was no hope left."

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