The distribution of several British newspapers was disrupted on Saturday after Extinction Rebellion climate change activists blockaded printing presses used by Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, the publisher of The Times and The Sun.
The group said late on Friday that nearly 80 people had blocked roads leading to two printworks, at Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, north east of London, and at Knowsley, near Liverpool.
Hertfordshire police said they had made 42 arrests, while Merseyside police said they had made 21.
The Murdoch-owned Newsprinters works also print the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times.
Extinction Rebellion said it took the action to highlight what it regards as the newspapers’ failure to accurately report on climate change.
The protests, which continued through to Saturday, were condemned by interior minister Priti Patel.
“This morning people across the country will be prevented from reading their newspaper because of the actions of Extinction Rebellion,” she said on Twitter.
“This attack on our free press, society and democracy is completely unacceptable.”
A Newsprinters spokeswoman said the disruption meant printing had to be transferred to other sites.
“We apologise sincerely to any readers of The Sun, The Times, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times who may be unable to buy their usual newspaper this morning due to late deliveries,” she said.
“This attack on all of the free press impacted many workers going about their jobs. Overnight print workers, delivery drivers, wholesale workers and retail newsagents have faced delays and financial penalty. This is a matter for the Police and the Home Office.”
The blockade is part of a week of protests by Extinction Rebellion, including on Wednesday in Parliament Square where demonstrators lay under white sheets to represent corpses.
The group says an emergency response and mass move away from polluting industries and behaviours is needed to avert a looming climate cataclysm.
It said it plans further protests in central London on Saturday. (Reuters)