Patrick Thelwell, who was also a candidate for the Green Party in York’s 2019 local elections, and Lucy Walsh were convicted of wilfully obstructing the public highway in connection with the protest, which prevented the distribution of half a million newspapers, including for the Daily Mail, The Sun, The Times, and The Daily Telegraph.
Thelwell, who has a similar previous conviction, was ordered to pay £500 in damages and given a conditional discharge for two years, while Walsh was given a 12 month conditional discharge and made to pay £320.
The protests, blocking printing plants in Merseyside and Hertfordshire, were carried out by Extinction Rebellion activists “to expose the failure of these corporations to accurately report on the climate and ecological emergency, and their consistent manipulation of the truth to suit their own personal and political agendas”.
Speaking to York Vision, Thelwell said: “The Government and the right-wing press are guilty of Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide, and Ecocide because of their complicity in the climate crisis.
“They belong in prison with the rest of the fascist regimes they support and arm. Free Palestine, Justice to the United People of Earth.”
The actions were criticised by Government politicians, with the Prime Minister saying that it was “completely unacceptable to seek to limit the public’s access to news in this way”, and Home Secretary Priti Patel saying it was “an attack on our free press, society and democracy”.
Walsh responded to this criticism, telling York Vision that “the Conservative Party and the media oligarchs that keep them in power are the biggest threat to our free press, society and democracy.
“Priti Patel has used our protest as an excuse to introduce the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill which creates ten-year jail sentences for “annoying” protests and would make the UK a totalitarian Police State overnight.”