This is the bizarre moment a parliamentary security officer tried to shut down a Sky News broadcast after more than 30 Greenpeace activists staged a protest in the central lobby.
Chief Political Correspondent Jon Craig was interviewing Tory MPs Rebecca Pow and Laura Farris when the activists began pouring into the room before sitting down and linking arms.
Despite the security breach, it appeared one officer was more concerned about the continuing broadcast, with footage showing him walking up to the camera and putting his hand over the screen. This prompted a reprimand from Mr Craig, who said: ‘We’re mid-way through an interview, excuse me.’
The officer walked away, before coming back several moments later shaking his head before standing with his back to the camera.
‘Got to stop you there, Laura Farris, Rebecca Pow, thank you very much. And the policeman [sic], sir, you’re like on Sky News,’ Mr Craig said, before the officer muttered, ‘My apologies’.
The protest took place within minutes of Rishi Sunak being named as the new PM, with campaigners who had entered the Palace of Westminster as tourists and visitors unfurling a banner reading Chaos Costs Lives.
There was no attempt by police to move them on and after reading out a number of statements they left voluntarily. It is the latest breach of parliamentary security after Extinction Rebellion activists were able to glue themselves to the Speaker’s Chair last month.
Sky News footage the moment Greenpeace activists ‘occupied’ the central lobby of parliament today, with a security officer bizarrely attempting to halt an interview that was being broadcast at the time
Presenter Jon Craig was interviewing Tory MPs Rebecca Pow and Laura Farris when the protesters began pouring into the room before sitting down and linking arms. This prompted the officer to walk over and put his hand on the screen
The intervention prompted a reprimand from Mr Craig, who said: ‘We’re mid-way through an interview, excuse me’
The officer walked away, before coming back several moments later shaking his head before standing with his back to the camera
The protesters – who were also from Fuel Poverty Action – unveiled a banner reading Chaos Costs Lives. There was no attempt by police to move them on and after reading out a number of statements they left voluntarily
Greenpeace UK’s co-executive director, Will McCallum, said: ‘Rishi Sunak should have realised by now the huge mistake he made by blocking plans for warmer homes and failing to properly tax fossil fuel giants.
‘People need permanently lower bills and a safe climate, and that means more renewable energy, more financial support, a nationwide street-by-street insulation programme, and a proper tax on the energy profiteers to pay for it.’
Ruth London, from Fuel Poverty Action, which also took part in the protest, called for support for their ‘energy for all’ proposal, giving each household enough free energy to cover basics such as heating, cooking and lighting, paid for windfall taxes, ending fossil fuel subsidies and higher prices for excess energy use.
It comes just hours after police arrested a group of Just Stop Oil protesters who threw chocolate cake in the face of a waxwork of King Charles at Madame Tussauds in the eco mob’s 26th stunt this month.
Footage shows two of the eco zealots walking up to the waxwork at the famous London attraction at around 10.50am before taking off their tops to reveal Just Stop Oil t-shirts. One of them shouts, ‘This is a time for action’ before they both smear it with cake.
As onlookers shout ‘stop’, the female protester begins a finger-wagging lecture about climate change while her male counterpart stands awkwardly with his arms crossed.
Just Stop Oil identified the pair as Eilidh McFadden, a 20-year-old from Glasgow and Tom Johnson, 29, a painter decorator from Sunderland. They had bought tickets to Madame Tussauds and wore black tops to cover their t-shirts. This morning, the Met confirmed they had been arrested for criminal damage alongside two others. Nearby waxworks of Camilla, William and Kate emerged unscathed.
McFadden said: ‘We are here because we seek to protect our freedoms and rights, because we seek to protect this green and pleasant land which is the inheritance of us all. Last year, at Cop 26 in Glasgow, Queen Elizabeth said: ”The time for words has moved to the time for action”.’
She added: ‘The science is clear. The demand is simple: just stop new oil and gas. It’s a piece of cake.’
King Charles III is a passionate environmental campaigner who has long spoken about the dangers of global warming. He had planned to travel to Egypt for Cop27, but has since abandoned plans to do so after it was claimed former prime minister Liz Truss warned him against attending.
Footage shows two of the eco morons walking up to the waxwork at the famous London attraction before taking off their tops to reveal Just Stop Oil t-shirts
One of the protesters shouts, ‘This is a time for action’ before they both smear the waxwork with cake
Onlookers can be heard shouting ‘stop’ during this morning’s bizarre protest in London
As onlookers shout ‘stop’, the female protester begins a finger-wagging lecture about climate change while her male counterpart stands awkwardly
Just Stop Oil identified the pair as Eilidh McFadden, a 20-year-old from Glasgow and Tom Johnson, 29, a painter decorator from Sunderland
McFadden was among a group of 20 activists who, in May, blocked the entrance to the Nustar Clydebank oil terminal near Glasgow. They were eventually forcibly removed by police.
Today’s incident is the latest in a long list of disruptive stunts by Just Stop Oil in recent weeks. They have previously blocked the Dartford Bridge, tipped tomato soup over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, spray painted the iconic glass frontage of Harrods orange and glued themselves to London’s Abbey Road crossing.
It recently emerged the group is being funded by a coalition of wealthy individuals from California, including Aileen Getty – the granddaughter of oil tycoon J Paul Getty – and that some of this money is used to pay activists. In response to a report in The Times this weekend, a spokesman for the group confirmed that ‘some people supporting Just Stop Oil do receive a small income’.
Just Stop Oil’s month of chaos in London with 26 protests in 24 days
Here are the main protests that have taken place so far this month –
October 1 – Bridge blockades
In its first protest of the month, Just Stop Oil protesters block Waterloo, Westminster, Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges by sitting in the road.
October 10 – Mob on the Mall
Around 30 Just Stop Oil supporters set up a roadblock on the Mall stopping traffic in both directions.
October 14 – Sunflowers stunt
Two Just Stop Oil protesters Anna Holland, 20, from Newcastle, and Phoebe Plummer, 21, throw soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in the National Gallery in central London. Other zealots sprayed orange paint over the New Scotland Yard HQ’s sign in Westminster, London.
October 17 – Dartford Crossing
Drivers are unable to use the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, which links Kent and Essex, after it is blocked by demonstrators climbed into the structure and suspended themselves from it.
Saturday – Islington
Roughly 20 protesters walk into the road in north London and stop traffic at Upper Street and Islington Green at 12pm. Some supporters glue themselves onto the tarmac and others used locked ons.
Sunday – Abbey Road
Members of the eco-mob stroll onto the pedestrian crossing – made famous by The Beatles album of the same name – at 1pm on Sunday and sit on it before being arrested.
Today – Madame Tussauds
Two protesters smear chocolate cake in the face of a waxwork of King Charles at Madame Tussauds before being arrested by police.
Aileen Getty, who lives in the United States and can draw on her family’s estimated $5.4 billion (£3.7 billion) fortune, has been helping to fund the Climate Emergency Fund (CEF), a US nonprofit that gives grants and funds to activists around the world, including Just Stop Oil.
This has sparked accusations from one MP that ‘foreign millionaires’ are funding eco mobs ‘to do their dirty work without any intention of coming out of the shadows and exposing themselves to democratic accountability’.
To date, Ms Getty has been thought to have given more than £800,000 ($1million) of her own money to the organisation, which has also counts Hollywood director Adam McKay among its supporters.
The CEF in turn has given out more than £6million to groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil, the latter of which have caused havoc in the UK in recent months.
Ms Getty’s grandfather, J Paul Getty, was at one time the world’s richest man.
A Madame Tussauds London’s spokesman said today: ‘At approximately 10.50am protesters entered the ‘World Stage’ Zone at Madame Tussauds London and appeared to throw what is believed to be cake at our figures of The Royal Family.
‘Our security team dealt with the incident quickly and we are working closely with the Metropolitan Police on this matter.
‘The attraction remains open, with our Royal Family set closed temporarily.’
It comes as splits emerged within the radical eco movement, with activists at odds over which actions protesters should take to get the public’s attention.
Just Stop Oil mastermind Roger Hallam has called on his organisation to take extreme actions, arguing that ‘nothing happens’ unless you upset the public.
However, Rupert Read, former spokesman for Extinction Rebellion (XR), has urged the group to focus on attracting new members to its cause instead of flashy demonstrations.
Mr Read argues the ‘radical’ actions the groups have been taking pose ‘significant barriers’ when recruiting new activists to join the cause.
XR inspired the seemingly more radical groups, Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain.
Both groups were founded and run by experienced members of XR.
Mr Hallam, a co-founder member of XR, actually left the group to pursue a more radical extreme path.
He now co-ordinates behind the scenes for Just Stop Oil.
‘If we’re going to win, we need a lot of people on board. I’m trying to create a moderate flank,’ Mr Read, a professor at the University of East Anglia, has argued, according to The Times.
‘What I want to see, and what I believe will occur, is a much larger mobilisation of people more moderate than Extinction Rebellion but more radical than any existing mainstream groups.’
It recently emerged the group is being funded by a coalition of wealthy individuals from California, including Aileen Getty (right – at an awards ceremony with Elton John)
Climate activists are at odds over what actions protesters should take to get the public’s attention. Pictured: Anna Holland, 20, and Phoebe Plummer, 21, during a Just Stop Oil protest in which they threw two tins of Heinz tomato soup over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in the National Gallery in central London on Oct. 14, 2022
Just Stop Oil urged protesters to take extreme actions, arguing that ‘nothing happens’ unless you upset the public. Pictured: A Just Stop Oil protester is pictured laying in a hammock over the Dartford Bridge during a demonstration on Oct. 18, 2022
Mr Read argued the climate change movement has to ‘be ready to grow exponentially’ which means activism groups must ‘lower barriers to entry.’
‘The reality is, a lot of people feel there are significant barriers of entry for them with radical and environmental activism,’ he argued.
‘I don’t think [the movement has] done such a good job to people with different political opinions and it’s not done a terribly good job of being inclusive to people of a different class background.’
The activist argued ‘most people need to engage in non-violent direct action’ and that having individuals take meaningful action on a smaller scale would ‘be a game changer.’
He said: ‘If we had a lot more people being determined that their employers or the institution where they spend most of their time should be serious about moving really fast, about reducing their climate and diversity impacts, that would be a game changer.’
However, Extinction Rebellion has urged members to focus on attracting new members to its cause instead of flashy demonstrations. Pictured: An XR protester scaling a Tube at Canning Town station at rush hour on Oct. 17, 2019
One XR leader argued the ‘radical’ actions the groups have been taking pose ‘significant barriers’ when recruiting new activists to join the cause. Pictured: Insulate Britain activists blocking traffic on the M25 on Sept. 29, 2021
Just Stop Oil protesters sprayed orange paint over the Aston Martin car showroom on Park Lane in London on Oct. 16, 2022 in an apparent spontaneous act of vandalism
However, Mr Hallam has taken a different approach to gather support, telling environmental enthusiasts: ‘If you don’t upset people enough, then nothing happens.’
‘If you upset people too much, like traditionally with violence, then you’re dead as well. But then there’s a sweet spot.’
He added: ‘No one knows where that sweet spot is, but as a general rule of thumb it’s a lot higher up than you think.’
Just Stop Oil is pushing activists to act boldly and encourages ‘high level disruption and intense mobilisation.’
Tim Hewes, a retired church of England priest affiliated with the group, told members: ‘If you’re not already in custody or dead we need you.’
The group also stresses the benefits of its ‘support system’ which includes no-fee lawyers that can help anyone who gets arrested over demonstrative action.
Additionally, members have access to an emotional support hotline with ‘climate crisis aware’ professionals and safe houses ‘where somebody will cook you dinner.’
Just Stop Oil protesters Anna Holland, 20, from Newcastle, and Phoebe Plummer, 21, threw two tins of Heinz tomato soup over an iconic Van Gogh painting at the National Gallery on Oct. 14, 2022. After their protest, the pair of demonstrators glued themselves to the floor and needed to be unglued by specialist police officers
Police say the £76 million piece of art was ‘unharmed’ during the climate demonstration
Lora Johnson, 38, was charged in the Scotland Yard incident and pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal damage. She went viral when she gave an interview about climate change while being carried off the ground by police
Just last week, two Just Stop Oil protesters threw soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in the National Gallery in central London.
Anna Holland, 20, from Newcastle, and Phoebe Plummer, 21, from Lambeth, south west London, threw two tins of Heinz tomato soup over the iconic £76 million painting before gluing themselves to a wall inside the Gallery.
Both have since pleaded not guilty to criminal damage to the frame of Van Gogh’s painting in a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Other eco zealots sprayed orange paint over the New Scotland Yard HQ’s sign in Westminster, London.
Lora Johnson, 38, from Southwold, Suffolk, was charged in the incident and pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal damage.
Also last week, two Just Stop Oil protesters were arrested after they suspended themselves from the Dartford Bridge.
Marcus Decker (left) and Morgan Trowland (right) have been charged with conspiracy to commit a public nuisance after allegedly climbing up the Dartford Bridge on Oct. 29, 2022
The pair were apparently taken down from the structure and arrested on Oct. 19, 2022 after a ‘super cherry picker’ arrived at the scene
Drivers were unable to use the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, which links Kent and Essex, after it was blocked when the demonstrators mounted its cables with climbing equipment.
Protesters Morgan Trowland, 39, and Marcus Decker, 33, climbed so high up the bridge that police negotiators urging them to descend were unable to communicate with them. The pair are then were said to have unfurled a Just Stop Oil banner and remained there for almost 36 hours.
Trowland and Decker will face a jury trial after both indicated not guilty pleas.
Why is the heiress to Getty oil billions bankrolling eco maniacs hell bent on disruption? Fossil fuel tycoon’s granddaughter is prominent backer of green zealots causing chaos on roads and defacing priceless artwork
Beth Hale for the Daily Mail
They have blocked the Dartford Bridge, tipped tomato soup over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, spray painted the iconic glass frontage of Harrods orange and glued themselves to London’s Abbey Road crossing.
And that’s just in the past week.
Now Just Stop Oil protesters have also been accused of ‘having blood on their hands’ after traffic carnage, caused after activists suspended themselves from the notoriously busy Thames crossing, indirectly led to the deaths of two women on the nearby choked M20.
The women, one of whom was named as Lisa Webber, a mother of four in her 50s, had stopped in heavy rain on the hardshoulder of the motorway, when they were hit by a passing car.
A shocked witness said: ‘The ecowarriors may have thought it was an innocent protest, but they’ve got blood on their hands.’
Aileen threw herself into HIV awareness campaigning (she’s still an ambassador for the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation), which brought her close to Princess Diana
While no one is suggesting the protesters planned such a terrible outcome, there are, it would seem, no lengths to which members of Just Stop Oil will not go in pursuit of their aim.
How ironic, then, to discover that one of the most prominent backers of this rag-tag assortment of eco-zealots who think gluing themselves to walls aids their anti-fossil fuel cause, is a woman whose funding clout possibly runs deeper than, well, an oil well.
Step forward Aileen Getty, an heiress to the Getty family fortune, which, of course, grew from the very industry activists are so keen to bring to its knees.
Aileen, 65, is the granddaughter of J. Paul Getty, the late tycoon who built an empire out of oil, one that made him the richest man in the world for a time.
The family left the oil industry in the early 2000s, but it certainly helped to grow a family fortune reckoned to be worth somewhere in the region of £4.8 billion.
Aileen, who has a collection of high-end properties in the U.S., is a founding member of the Climate Emergency Fund (CEF), a U.S.-based non-profit organisation that is funding direct action, like that of Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion, across the globe.
According to the CEF’s own Twitter feed, she has donated ‘over a million dollars to brave climate activists’, money that in some cases pays such protesters a nominal salary. A Just Stop Oil spokesman confirmed this week that supporters ‘do receive a small income’.
And she’s doing this, she told the Mail, because society was ‘out of time’.
‘My hope is that we, as a society, can accept these actions from brave climate activists for what they are — an alarm that jolts us out of the status quo and focuses us on the real emergency at hand: we are literally killing life on Earth,’ she said.
Quite how the notoriously frugal Getty family patriarch, who died in 1976, aged 83, would feel about his once favourite granddaughter’s actions is open to debate.
Aileen, however, has spent most of her life treading an unconventional path.
Now something of an ageing hippy chick — albeit one who has chefs to prepare her vegan cuisine and who sold one of her homes to pop star Katy Perry — her life was once extraordinarily glamorous; Dudley Moore played the piano at her engagement party, and her first husband was Christopher Wilding, son of the late Elizabeth Taylor — more of which later.
Despite the marriage, a deeply troubled Aileen was on a path to self-destruction.
A cocaine addict (an interviewer once noted her daily cocaine habit was ‘enough to put an elephant into space’), she contracted HIV as the result of an extra-marital affair. It was 1985, a time when there was still terrible public stigma to the disease.
By 1990 Aileen’s infection would escalate to Aids. She suffered heart problems, lung disease, collapsed and nearly died, but somehow clung on, saved by the discovery of effective HIV medication.
The year 1996 was a turning point. She got clean, and was famously photographed with Princess Diana visiting a drop-in centre for people with Aids in London’s West End.
Facing death and her own demons were definite motivating factors in her epiphany. As was money. ‘Wealth has destroyed us,’ she said in an interview in June 1996.
The ‘us’ she was referring to was, of course, her family. For Aileen’s extraordinary story is just one chapter in a family history often dubbed the ‘Curse of the Gettys’ — a dynastic saga punctuated by kidnapping, drugs, rivalry and death.
Her first husband was Christopher Wilding, son of the late Elizabeth Taylor (left)
J. Paul Getty was shown his first oil well aged 11. After graduating from Oxford University, he’d made his first million by the age of 23. He struck black gold after securing a 60-year concession on a stretch of land between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in 1949. What he lacked as a husband — he married and divorced five times — Getty made up for in his money-making ability.
By 1966 he was named the richest private citizen in the world, with an estimated billion-dollar fortune.
He bought Rembrandts and Renoirs and moved to England to Sutton Place, a 16th-century estate near Guildford, Surrey, where, a notorious skinflint, he installed a payphone for guests.
Aileen spent long periods there as a youngster. ‘I was my grandfather’s favourite, I think, because I wasn’t afraid of him,’ she once said.
His estate was a sanctuary for her as a teenager. Her own father, John Paul Jr, was a jet-setting heroin addict in the 1960s and 1970s.
By the mid-1960s, his marriage to Aileen’s mother, Gail Harris, had crumbled and he married Dutch actress Talitha Pol, who would die from a drug overdose in 1971.
Darker times still were yet to come. Aileen was 13 and living in Rome with her mother, when her elder brother, John Paul III, 16, was kidnapped by Italian terrorists. A bitter five-month negotiation ensued.
Aileen’s dad had never got on with his own father, who’d sacked him from Getty Oil and cut him out of his will. When asked to pay the ransom demand — initially around £15 million — Getty refused, declaring: ‘I have 13 other grandchildren, if I pay one penny now, then I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.’
It was only when John Paul III’s severed ear arrived in the post, along with a lock of his hair, that he agreed to pay £1.9 million (the maximum that was tax deductible) towards a reduced ransom for his grandson.
Money-minded even in the midst of this crisis, he loaned the difference, about £885,000, to his son on the condition he pay it back with 4 per cent interest. Aileen’s brother was then freed.
Their father eventually left his wild ways behind and became a virtual recluse. The impact of the kidnap on his son, however, was cataclysmic. He adopted a hippy lifestyle, married at the age of 18 (for which he was disinherited), then tumbled into a trail of self-destruction that culminated in a drug overdose in 1981, which left him paralysed and virtually blind until his death at the age of 54 in 2011.
A teenage Aileen moved to Los Angeles, where she fell into a glossy world of parties — and drugs — and fell in love with Christopher Wilding. Desperate to marry, they had to wait until she was 22 to avoid disinheritance under Getty trust rules.
The marriage was haunted by the heartbreak of multiple miscarriages before the couple adopted Caleb, now 39. Aileen then fell pregnant with Andrew, now 37.
But four years into the union the wheels had already started to come off. In 1985, Aileen had a fling with a man only ever named as ‘Gary’ who infected her with HIV.
That led to the end of her marriage, a descent into drug addiction and the temporary loss of custody of her beloved boys.
Her family’s reaction to the disease didn’t help — she said they were in denial. Her biggest source of support was her former mother-in-law Elizabeth Taylor, herself an early and committed supporter of research on HIV/Aids.
Such was Aileen’s devotion to Liz she always referred to her as ‘Mom’, while her own mother she called ‘Gail’.
‘Elizabeth is the greatest. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I would have lasted this long,’ she said in an interview in 1996.
It was reciprocal. ‘I love her like she’s one of my own children,’ the late star declared.
Aileen threw herself into HIV awareness campaigning (she’s still an ambassador for the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation), which brought her close to Princess Diana. ‘Aids has given me a purpose, in many senses,’ Aileen once said. ‘I was numb before; I didn’t know what to do with my life.’
In 2012, she founded the Aileen Getty Foundation, supporting a variety of causes close to her heart. She had a short-lived second marriage to American Scott Padilla, whom she met in rehab in 1990; and intriguingly spoke in 1997 of a third marriage to an unnamed Englishman. It clearly didn’t last, because in 2004 she married Bartolomeo Ruspoli.
In recent years she has kept a low profile. Her last significant interview appears to have been in 2015 for a U.S. magazine, in which she said: ‘The early years were very hard years and I don’t think I’m over that. I don’t talk about it much, but it lives in a very deep place in me that’s . . . still painful.’
She said her health was good, as was her relationship with her two sons.
Aileen, 65, is the granddaughter of J. Paul Getty (pictured), the late tycoon who built an empire out of oil, one that made him the richest man in the world for a time
As youngsters, they had been given instructions on the emergency number to call if their mother collapsed and were told to wear rubber gloves to protect themselves if she bled. ‘I’m a very lucky parent,’ she said. ‘They’re both divine souls and we’re all very close.’
Philanthropy and activism aside, she does appear to have inherited some of the business acumen of her forbears. Founder of LA restaurant company Sprout, she’s a serial buyer and seller of high-end homes, most recently a £19 million New York townhouse.
On the subject of her activism, she has been pointed but brief.
But she responded by email to the Mail last week, insisting: ‘I support climate activism through the Climate Emergency Fund because we are out of time for anything other than rapid, comprehensive climate action.
‘We can have a fossil fuel-powered economy, or we can have thriving life on planet Earth. We can’t have both.’
She said she funded the CEF, which in turn made grants to climate activists ‘engaged in non-violent legal civil disobedience’, including Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain.
‘I do not fund these groups or their actions directly, though I am in full support of Just Stop Oil’s critical demand of no new oil and gas leases.’
As for the disruptive actions of those groups she said: ‘If you accept that we are facing a widespread climate disaster, then civil disobedience does not seem so crazy and extreme.
‘Any discomfort caused by the protests we are seeing — which have been peaceful and non- violent — pales in comparison with what awaits us all if we fail to act on climate.’
Additional reporting Barbara McMahon.