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'Deep regrets' over London Tube action, says Norwich-based Extinction Rebellion spokesman

PUBLISHED: 15:30 17 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:30 17 October 2019

Dr Rupert Read, from Extinction Rebellion. Pic: Neil Perry.

Dr Rupert Read, from Extinction Rebellion. Pic: Neil Perry.

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A Norwich-based spokesman for Extinction Rebellion has said he "deeply regrets" the protests which led to ugly scenes on London's Tube system and said it has created "the most difficult moment in the movement's history so far".

University of East Anglia professor and former Norwich City Council Green councillor Rupert Read said the Extinction Rebellion political strategy group, which he is a member of, had advised "strongly" against activists taking action on the London Underground.

An activist was dragged to the ground from the top of a Tube train in east London during the Thursday morning rush hour.

Furious commuters at a crowded Canning Town station lobbed drinks at one protester before he was yanked from the train to the platform floor.

Video shared on social media showed protesters holding a sign which read "Business as usual = death", while the activist pulled to the floor appeared to kick out at the commuter who pulled him down.

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British Transport Police confirmed eight people had been arrested on suspicion of obstructing the railway on Thursday morning and also urged commuters not to "take matters into their own hands".

A member of Transport for London (TfL) staff appeared to intervene to stop people from attacking the male XR activist further by holding them back.

Dr Read, writing on Facebook said: "I deeply regret that the action on the tube went ahead this morning. XR political strategy group, to which I belong, advised strongly and unanimously against it, as did the vast majority of the movement.

"Lessons must be learnt so that never again can the actions of a tiny number of 'XR' activists (sic) tarnish the entire movement.

"Once it was clear that this action was going ahead, XR should have disowned it, yesterday. But we didn't (it seems) have a process for doing so. In future, the process for such disownment, where necessary, needs to be clear."

He said the point to demonstrate the "utter frailty" of the tube network was "worthy", but the design of the action was questionable and the execution "obviously flawed".

He said the political strategy group was calling for a pause on the two weeks' worth of action in London.

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