Home Office ministers deny Extinction Rebellion is considered an 'extremist group'

PUBLISHED: 13:16 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:21 22 January 2020

Home Secretary Priti Patel arrives for a cabinet meeting in Downing Street. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

Home Secretary Priti Patel arrives for a cabinet meeting in Downing Street. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

Home Office ministers have denied that Extinction Rebellion has been classified as an 'extremist group', despite being listed as a terrorist threat by police.

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Last week the home secretary Priti Patel was criticised for defending the police move to put XR on the list of extremist ideologies.

In an interview with LBC she acknowledged that XR was a protest group - not a terror threat - but fell short of criticising the decision saying the government was "constantly looking at individuals and groups".

"They [XR] are obviously a protest organisation. But everything has to be based in terms of risk to the public, security risks, security threats," she said.

"That is based on information from the police, and various intelligence that we will receive. That's the proper thing to do."

Clarifying the government position Home Office minister Brandon Lewis told MPs: "We are clear that the right to peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our just society and an indispensable channel of political and social expression."

He added: "The police have recalled the guidance and are reviewing it, and I want to reiterate that Extinction Rebellion is in no way considered an extremist group under the 2015 definition of extremism and the home secretary has been clear on this point.

"The police have also made clear that they regret any offence caused by using the Ukrainian Tryzub symbol in their internal education document. That document was being used to help frontline officers and staff recognise and understand the wide range of signs and symbols they may come across whilst on duty.

"As the police have said it explicitly states that many of the symbols are not of counter-terrorism interest. Unfortunately far-right groups do have a history of misappropriating national symbols as part of their identity."

Lewis also said that the government "sincerely regret any offence caused to the Ukrainian nation or its people".

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