Just Stop Oil’s statement on Walney Report

The Government’s ‘independent adviser’ on domestic extremism, Lord Walney aka former Labour Politician John Woodcock, has issued a report calling for organisations like Palestine Action and Just Stop Oil to be banned. [1]

The report outlines that any group engaging in action where the maximum penalty is imprisonment should be restricted through sanctions, including removing the right to assemble and fundraise. The report also calls for new measures that would enable individuals and businesses to sue protest groups, as well as calling for an extension of police spies and covert surveillance on groups the government disagrees with. [2]

Last week, it emerged that far from being ‘independent’, Mr Woodcock serves vested corporate interests in the arms and fossil fuel industries, whose profits are being threatened by the groups he’s proposing to ban.

Amongst other roles, Woodcock chairs the Purpose Defence Coalition, whose members include Leonardo, one of the world’s largest arms manufacturers, with extensive links to the Israeli government. He is also a paid adviser to Rud Pederson, lobbyists, whose clients include the oil and gas giant, Glencore as well as Enwell Energy, which describes itself as ‘a highly focused oil and gas business’. He is also a paid adviser to the Purpose Business Coalition, whose members include BP. [3]

Woodcock resigned from the Labour party in 2018 amid sexual harassment allegations, and was subsequently granted a lifelong peerage by Boris Johnson after calling on the electorate to vote for the Conservatives.

The report has been laid before the House of Commons using the ‘motion for unopposed return’ procedure, which means there’s no scrutiny of it by Parliament, but it benefits from Parliamentary privilege, ie: Walney can’t be sued for defamation.

Shami Chakrabarti, a Labour peer and human rights advocate, said the government was hiding behind procedure.

“It is ironic that a government that consistently attacks protesters by press releases and reading the riot act to police chiefs now hides behind arcane procedure and abuse of parliamentary privilege,” she said. [4]

The revelations echo a previous attempt by the so-called ‘think-tank’, Policy Exchange to brand climate defenders as ‘extremists’ in 2019. It later emerged that Policy Exchange was also being funded by Big Oil. [5][6]

A Just Stop Oil Spokesperson said:

“Lord Walney is directly funded by oil and gas companies, as well as by the weapons manufacturers responsible for the deaths of countless innocent civilians in Gaza. His direct financial ties to the very companies whose profits are threatened by the groups he’s proposing to ban, means he is entirely compromised. It is yet another case of open corruption. As such, Just Stop Oil does not recognise the legitimacy of this report. 

The governments’ climate strategy has been declared unlawful for the second time and their response has been to licence yet more oil, as our climate spins out of control. Who are we going to sue for the inconvenience of flooded fields, crop failure, spiralling food costs and empty shelves? Just this morning, the High Court has ruled that Suella Braverman acted unlawfully in making it easier for the police to criminalise peaceful direct action. History will come to regard the acts of this government and its cronies as the real criminals, which is why they will stop at nothing to silence those telling the truth and acting like we are in the emergency that we are in.”

Today’s report comes hours after the High Court ruled the Home Office’s threshold for “serious disruption” in the Public Order Act 2023 was unlawful. [7]

Until leaders act to protect us, Just Stop Oil supporters will continue to take the proportional action necessary to generate political pressure. This summer airports will be declared sites of civil resistance. Sign up to take action at juststopoil.org


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Notes to Editors

[1] Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to demand that the government immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK. Just Stop Oil is a member of the A22 Network of civil resistance projects.

Just Stop Oil ‘Blue Lights’ policy: our policy is, and has always been, to move out of the way for emergency vehicles with siren sounding and ‘blue lights’ on.


[3] https://www.theguardian.com/world/article/2024/may/20/uk-review-of-protest-tactics-expected-to-stop-short-of-banning-groups

[4] ]https://planb.earth/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/PR-WALNEY-REPORT.pdf


[6] https://www.desmog.com/2023/06/29/rishi-sunak-boasts-that-oil-funded-think-tank-helped-us-draft-crackdown-on-climate-protests/

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/article/2024/may/21/new-police-powers-for-protests-unlawful-high-court-rules