Five charged with aggravated trespass after Just Stop Oil eco-protesters halt Les Miserables West End show

5 October 2023, 22:03 | Updated: 5 October 2023, 22:23

Just Stop Oil interrupted a performance of Les Mis
Just Stop Oil interrupted a performance of Les Mis. Picture: Just Stop Oil

By Emma Soteriou

Five people have been charged with aggravated trespass after eco-protesters halted a Les Miserables performance in the West End on Wednesday.

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The five people charged are Hannah Taylor, 23, Lydia Gribbin, 28, Hanan Ameur, 22, Noah Crane, 18, and Poppy Bliss, 19.

They have been released on bail and will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on November 3.

Footage shared online showed several members of Just Stop Oil storm the stage during the song One Day More, where an actor waves the famous red flag.

Protesters appeared holding banners reading Just Stop Oil and wearing tops saying The Show Can't Go On.

The crowd could be heard booing as one member of the group addressed the theatre.

One person could be heard shouting: "Get off you stupid people. How dare you." 

Another said: "You naughty people, you naughty people."

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The safety curtain was brought down on the stage and the Sondheim Theatre later had to be evacuated due to the eco-zealots locking themselves to the set.

Community worker Hannah Taylor said on Wednesday: "The show starts with Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving child. How long before we are all forced to steal loaves of bread?"

She added: "How long before there are riots on the streets? The show cannot go on. We are facing catastrophe. New oil and gas means crop failure, starvation and death. It is an act of war on the global south and an utter betrayal of young people.

"Rishi Sunak has just approved Rosebank, a new oil project in the north sea which will produce as much carbon as the annual emissions of the 28 lowest-income countries combined.

"It will lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths due to starvation as crops fail in the increasingly extreme weather conditions.

"Am I not, like Jean Valjean, justified in breaking the law to oppose this criminal government and its murderous policies? Ask yourself, will you, like the citizens of Paris in the play, stand by and watch, or will you stand up against our governments' criminal plans and call for an end to new oil and gas?"

The Met said in a statement: "The performance of Les Miserables on the evening of Wednesday, October 4 was halted at around 21:00hrs after a group of people entered the stage area.

"Police were called and local officers were quickly on scene. Five people were arrested and later charged as above.

"Police are keen to hear from those in the audience who may have travelled from far outside London in order to see the show."

William Village, chief executive of Delfont Mackintosh Theatres - which owns the Sondheim, said: "During the first half of our performance of Les Miserables, individuals from Just Stop Oil invaded the stage, abruptly stopping the show.

"Following our safety protocols, the audience were asked to leave the auditorium and the Met Police attended.

"Regrettably, there was insufficient time to enable us to complete the rest of the performance.

"Whilst we recognise the importance of free expression, we must also respect our audience's right to enjoy the event for which they have paid."

Anyone with information or footage relating to the incident is urged to call police on 101 or Tweet ‘X’ @MetCC quoting 2074/5OCT.

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