A courtroom where six Extinction Rebellion activists are being tried was today thrown into chaos for the second day running as a defendant stormed out.
Yesterday, one of the defendants glued his hand to a table in the courtroom and yelled 'I would like to make clear what is going on in this court is obvious and complete criminality.'
And this morning, when District Judge Sally Fudge ruled Liam Norton, 36, would not be allowed back into court after the stunt, another of the protesters, Sally Davidson, declared she was leaving.
Six of the protestors accused of taking part in an unlawful protest outside the News Print plant in Broxbourne, Herts, where the Sun is printed, went on trial at St Albans Magistrates' Court on Monday.
They are accused of the wilful obstruction of the road outside the plant.
It comes after the first witness in the case to give evidence, PC Josh Wilson, claimed protestors asked him to get the Sun owner Rupert Murdoch down to the scene.
Today, the judge was forced to leave the courtroom so order could be restored.
A man believed to be Liam Norton, who glued his hand to a courtroom table, was led from St Albans Magistrates Court yesterday morning
Extinction Rebellion block the road in Knowsley, Liverpool to prevent papers going to print
On trial are Liam Norton, 36, from Scarborough; Eleanor Bujak, 28, from Finsbury Park, London; Sally Davidson, 33, from Streatham, London; James Ozden, 35, from London; Timothy Speers, from Waltham Forest, London and Morgan Trowland, 38, from Hackney, London.
All six plead not guilty to a charge of obstructing the highway.
Norton will now be tried in his absence after he was arrested for gluing his hand to a table top in the court room, launching into a rant and filming himself with his smart phone.
His stunt and the efforts to free him pushed back the start of the trial for three hours.
When it did get underway, the district judge was told how on the night of Friday, September 4, last year around 50 members of Extinction Rebellion staged a protest outside the main gates of The Sun’s printing plant just off the A10 near Broxbourne.
Activists blocked the road outside the gates with two bamboo lock-on structures and two vans preventing all movement in and out of the plant.
Newsprinters produce News Corporation’s titles including the Sun and the Times, as well as the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the London Evening Standard.
The activists were protesting at what they said was the mis-reporting of the climate crisis by the media.
Protesters outside St Albans Magistrates' Court, where XR activists who were arrested during blockade of News Corp printing works in Hertfordshire on September 4 2020 are due in court
The court was told when the first police officers arrived on the scene at around 11.30pm that night, they found protesters suspended from each of the bamboo structures using climbing equipment.
Other protesters were laying in the ground under the structures and activists were also under the parked vans and on the roofs of each vehicle.
Officers were told by the group they had trained for the protest.
It is estimated the blockade stopped 3.5million copies of newspapers from reaching readers and some workers also found themselves unable to leave the plant after finishing their shifts.
The court has been told the police repeatedly asked the protesters to leave the road as they were breaking the law by blocking it.
When they didn’t 51 protesters were arrested.
PC Wilson, who was one of the first officers to arrive, told the court it was his job to talk to members of Extinction Rebellion and try to persuade them to move out of the road.
While being cross-examined by Mr Raj Chada, who represents four of the protestors, PC Wilson said he found out that night that the protest was about the 'control of the media'.
On Monday, six of the protestors accused of taking part in the unlawful protest went on trial at St Albans Magistrates' Court, including Morgan Trowland, 38, of Hackney, London (pictured)
The officer said he and his colleagues repeatedly pointed out to the protestors they were in breach of the law and asked them to move out of the road.
Mr Chada put it to the officer: 'Five crooks in control of our news?'
PC Wilson answered: 'That's correct.'
Mr Chada asked the officer: 'People were talking about one particular owner? That was Rupert Murdoch?'
'That was correct,' said the officer.
Asked if there were any specific requests from the group, the officer said: 'A request to get Mr Murdoch down to the location.'
PC Wilson said he relayed the request to his senior officers.
Tim Speer, 25, one of the six who is on trial and who is defending himself, cross examined PC Wilson and put it to him that Rupert Murdoch was promoting hate speech.
'I just don't know why you haven't arrested him,' he told the officer.
He then went on to question the officer about his understanding of the 'climate situation'.
Inspector Matthew Barton, who attended the protest, agreed that the protest that night was about the group's concerns about the ownership of the media and the way the climate crisis was being reported.
All six are charged with the wilful obstruction of the highway. Pictured: James Ozden, 35, from Tottenham, London
PC Wilson also told the court that the effect of the blockade meant that nothing could leave the plant or enter, and workers who had finished their shift were trapped and the transportation of newspapers away from the plant was threatened.
Yesterday morning, Norton got to his feet to rant in court, yelling out 'Judge, what you are doing is illegal.'
With the palm of his left hand on a table, he continued: 'What we have seen over decades is organised criminality in this country and unfortunately the only thing to do, as I have showed, is contempt, as you have.'
Norton, whose eyes were hidden behind a mask, then revealed to security staff who entered the courtroom at St Albans Magistrates Court, that in fact his flat hand on the table had been glued to the surface.
As he continued his rant against the government, cheering, singing and clapping broke out from his supporters in the public gallery.
He told his supporters and others in court: 'I am left with no option but to disobey and show contempt.'
District Judge Sally then left courtroom number six and the gallery was cleared as security staff dealt with the situation.
It took two hours to free Mr Norton and he was arrested and removed from the court building and taken to Hatfield Police Station.
The trial then got underway against the other five and Mr Norton in his absence.
The court was told the effect of the blockade meant that nothing could leave the plant or enter. Pictured: Tim Speers, 25, from Waltham Forest
XR action saw protesters targeting Newsprinters printing works at Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, and Knowsley, near Liverpool, blocking the day's newspapers from leaving the depots
In all, 51 people were charged with obstructing the highway following the blockade of the Newsprinters printworks in Great Eastern Road, Waltham Cross.
During the protest last September, activists used vehicles and bamboo lock-ons to block roads near Newsprinters' Broxbourne site.
A second blockade of the company's printing works in Knowsley, near Liverpool, took place on the same day.
The Newsprinters presses publish the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp's titles including the Sun, Times, Sun On Sunday and Sunday Times, as well as the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail and Mail On Sunday, and the London Evening Standard.
It meant readers were delayed in receiving, or did not receive their copies of their respective newspapers.
Extinction Rebellion claimed at the time the demonstration was in response to the newspapers' failure to report on the climate and ecological emergency.
In his impromptu speech in the courtroom, Mr Norton said 'Society is on the brink of collapse and the Crown Prosecution Service continue to criminalise protests.
'Corruption is flowing through the highest levels of our system, yet our system continues to criminalise us.'
The case is proceeding.