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Revealed: Eco-activists who targeted Taylor Swift's jet unmasked as ex-civil servant and Palestine protester

20 June 2024, 13:14 | Updated: 20 June 2024, 15:02

Jennifer Kowalski and Cole Macdonald broke into the airfield with the aim of targeting Taylor Swift's jet. Kowalski is a Taylor Swift fan
Jennifer Kowalski and Cole Macdonald broke into the airfield with the aim of targeting Taylor Swift's jet. Kowalski is a Taylor Swift fan. Picture: Social media

By EJ Ward and Kit Heren

An eco-activist who targeted Taylor Swift's private jet is an ex-civil servant who had earlier been convicted for targeting the government and said she wanted to convert the pop star to the cause.

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Jennifer Kowalski and Cole Macdonald were arrested on Thursday morning for criminal damage and interference with the use or operation of national infrastructure after spraying orange paint over the planes at Stansted Airport.

Kowalski has a history of taking part in disruptive climate protests, while Macdonald was arrested for blocking a road in support for Palestine.

Kowalski, 28, has been arrested several times for her climate protests, and pleaded guilty to a breach of the peace for smearing red paint over a government building in Edinburgh in 2022. Just a few months later she was detained again in London.

Read more: Just Stop Oil activists break into VIP airfield 'where Taylor Swift's jet is parked' and spray jets with orange paint

Read more: Moment hero tourists grab Just Stop Oil spraying paint on Stonehenge, as activists 'damage rare lichen'

Less than a year after that she was hired in a £40,000 per year job as a sustainability manager for the Department for Work and Pensions, raising questions over the department's hiring practices. LBC has contacted the DWP for comment.

Just Stop Oil said that Ms Swift's jet had been parked at Stansted shortly before they launched their protest. Kowalski said in a 2022 interview that she was a big fan of Swift and wanted to convert her to the climate cause.

Lisa Kowalski with Swift in 2018
Lisa Kowalski with Swift in 2018. Picture: Social media

Kowalski was part of a group of activists who painted "blood on their hands" on a building in Edinburgh where around 3,000 civil servants work, according to Scottish media.

The government said that Kowalski and her accomplices had caused damage worth £600,000. Kowalski claimed this was a "scare tactic", the Daily Record reported.

She was admonished for the offence - the lightest punishment under Scottish law. The sentence serves as a warning not to reoffend and appears on a person's criminal record.

Representing herself, Kowalski told the court: "Parts of the planet are becoming uninhabitable. The UK Government plans to push for 40 new fossil fuel projects.

Kowalski during the Rolex protest
Kowalski during the Rolex protest. Picture: Social media

"The government clearly doesn’t care about our future. They are signing our death warrants."

In October 2022, she spray-painted a Rolex shop in London and was swiftly arrested for criminal damage, complaining that she was in "quite a vulnerable situation".

"While I was lucky that there weren’t many people around, window cleaners that were called in and they were quite angry and at one point one said something along the lines of, ‘I’ll pour water all over you’," she told the Glasgow Times.

Kowalski (left) and Macdonald (R)
Kowalski (left) and Macdonald (R). Picture: JSO

Despite her apparent disillusionment with the government, Kowalski moved on to a job as a part-time sustainability manager with the DWP from 2023, according to her LinkedIn profile.

She also said that she wanted to get tickets for Graham Norton's chat show to target Taylor Swift when the pop star appeared, so she could win her over to the climate cause.

Kowalski couldn't get into the show, so settled at that time for the Rolex stunt.

Meanwhile fellow activist Macdonald was also in court a few weeks ago for a Palestine protest. Macdonald and another activist 'locked on' to the road outside an arms factory near Brighton.

Just Stop Oil spray substance over Stonehenge

During Thursday's protest, Kowalski, 28, and Macdonald, 22, sprayed paint over a series of jets before sitting in front of their vandalism and embracing in a hug.

They claimed they were targeting the singer's jet however it later emerged that they were unable to find it.

In a statement Essex Police said: "Officers have responded quickly and made two arrests following reports of people gaining access to a private area of an airfield at Stansted Airport.

"We were called shortly before 5.10am today (Thursday 20 June) .It was reported two people had gained access to an area well away from the runway and main passenger terminal, before causing damage to two aircraft.

"Officers were on the scene within minutes and detained two people."The airport and flights are operating as normal.

"A 22-year-old woman from Brighton, and a 28-year-old woman from Dumbarton, have been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and interference with the use or operation of national infrastructure."

Chief Superintendent Simon Anslow said: “I would like to reassure passengers and the wider public that we are well prepared and resourced to deal with incidents of this nature.

“Almost immediately after we were made aware of this incident, which took place away from the main passenger terminal, we were on the scene.

“We maintain a constant presence at the airport and this presence will be heightened over the summer period.

“We have a good working relationship with Manchester Airport Group and Stansted Airport to ensure you can go about your travels with minimal impact.“We are not anti protest but we will always take action where criminal acts take place.”

Stansted Airport said in a statement: "Shortly after 5am, Essex Police arrested two protestors who had entered the private aviation area of the airfield, away from the runway and main passenger terminal.

"As a precaution, runway operations were suspended for a short period, but no flights were disrupted, and the airport and flights are operating as normal."

Taylor Swift is performing at Wembley Arena this weekend, after already touring in the UK across Edinburgh, Liverpool and Cardiff this month.

The climate activist group shared a video of two members cutting into a private airfield at Stansted in the early hours of Thursday morning.

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