Skip to main content
Amnesty International UK
Log in

UK: Government cutting ties with Greenpeace after PM house protest 'deeply concerning'

Image of the Prime Minister's constituency's home covered in black fabric after Greenpeace staged a peaceful protest
The peaceful protest was at the Prime Minister’s empty constituency property In Yorkshire last week © Greenpeace

Responding to the Government’s severing of any engagement with the environmental NGO Greenpeace UK after it staged a peaceful climate crisis protest at the Prime Minister’s empty constituency property In Yorkshire last week, Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, said:

“I am deeply concerned that the reported Government response of excluding Greenpeace from contact with the UK government or participation in any of the normal UK government engagement processes with policy experts (such as participation in policy consultations) will be damaging to good policy-making on critical issues relating to the environment, and so also fails the test of proportionality of response from a public authority to a legitimate act of civil disobedience.

“An act of civil disobedience - including an act that breaks the law - can be an important means of raising awareness of, or raising dissent against, an important matter of public policy. Such acts may constitute a legitimate form of expression and as such public authorities have a duty to ensure that any restriction or sanctions response should be considered under the scope of the rights to freedom of conscience, expression and peaceful assembly. 

“In particular, this means that any UK government sanctions against Greenpeace, following their recent protest at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s constituency property, must comply with the three-part test of ‘legality, legitimate aim and proportionality’.

“We understand that Greenpeace planned their protest at Mr Sunak’s property to coincide with he and his family being away in the United States, and so avoid any threat or danger to either the Prime Minister or his family. We understand this has been confirmed by the Assistant Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police, who said of the protest: ‘There was no threat to the wider public throughout this incident which has now been brought to a safe conclusion. The Prime Minister and his family were not at the address at the time of the incident.’

“Over many years we have seen acts of civil disobedience play a critical role in provoking public policy debate on important issues in the UK, and the UK government claims to strongly support the role of civil disobedience in other countries around the world. 

“Disproportionate sanctions in response to an act of civil disobedience, such as Greenpeace’s recent protest, not only can have a chilling effect on legitimate policy debate here in the UK, but potentially provides succour to those around the world who want to crack down on the role and voice of civil society in vital policy areas.”

View latest press releases