Extinction Rebellion-backed action takes climate protest to gruesome new level.
A retired member of the clergy from Oxfordshire sewed his lips shut on Monday outside the headquarters of Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, in protest against the media giant’s alleged ‘silencing of climate science’.
Revd Tim Hewes stood outside the main entrance of the News UK offices by the Shard in London, to draw attention to a ‘catastrophic lack of effective action’ to tackle the climate crisis. The offices house publications including The Sun and The Times.
As part of the dramatic protest, Revd Hewes, 71, held placards including the words: ‘Murdoch muted climate science’, ‘Murdoch to the dock for ecocide’ and ‘The Murdoch legacy? The 6th Mass Extinction on planet earth’.
Revd Mark Coleman, 62, was also present and delivered a letter to the building for Ben Webster, Environment Editor at The Times, asking for a meeting.
Christian Climate Action – part of Extinction Rebellion – organised the protest. The group says News Corp responded to the protest by refusing to engage with Revd Tim or Revd Mark and prevented others from engaging by directing people to their side entrance. After two hours, Rev Tim Hewes chose to end his protest and remove his stitches.
Tim, who is a Church of England priest in the Diocese of Oxford and a former dentist, made a video statement before he sewed up his lips, in which he said: “I’m sewing up my lips to demonstrate the terrible and violent havoc Murdoch’s actions have reaped upon the world and to symbolically make visible this truth. Today there are countless people throughout the world who are voiceless and suffering because of the climate emergency.
“Climate science and truth has been muted and those who suffer are not being heard. I have tried everything other way I can think of to end the influences and madness represented by Rupert Murdoch and his denial of the climate emergency.’
Mark, who is a Church of England priest in the Diocese of Manchester, said: “I am supporting Tim in his action because he is courageously drawing attention to the undue and distorting influence of Murdoch’s media. The truth that will set us free, not media spin and confusion.”
Revd Hewes is understood to be resting and recovering following the protest.
Extinction Rebellion has often targeted Murdoch publications for their alleged failure to report on the full extent of the climate crisis. XR activists were accused of ‘attacking free speech’ when they blockaded the papers’ print works last September – actions that enraged Home Secretary Priti Patel. Patel is now pushing forward the Policing Bill, which will restrict the right to protest, and is explicitly targeted at groups like Extinction Rebellion.
XR’s ‘Free the Press’ campaign calls for ‘radical reform’ of UK media, arguing: “We cannot survive, meaningfully and with compassion, when there is a revolving door between our government and a billionaire press that is obsessed with profit, and fuelled by hostility.”
News UK has been contacted for comment.
Rev Tim Hewes sewed his lips shut yesterday and stood outside the main entrance of News Corps UK offices. He was drawing attention to the silencing of climate science by Rupert Murdoch and News Corp.
Find out why he felt compelled to do this: https://t.co/3H7anOz5F4
— Christian Climate Action (@CClimateAction) August 3, 2021
Josiah Mortimer is co-editor of Left Foot Forward.
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