The environmental protest movement Extinction Rebellion has severely criticised the group’s inclusion on a police extremism watch list.
Late last week, The Guardian newspaper reported that counter-terrorism police in south-east England had included Extinction Rebellion on a list of extremist ideologies to be reported to the authorities under the Prevent anti-extremism programme.
The police had recalled the guidance after being questioned about the group’s inclusion, according to the newspaper.
In a statement, Extinction Rebellion strongly condemned the police decision to include the group on the list alongside extremist organisations.
"Children up and down the country are desperately fighting for a future," the statement said.
"Teachers, grandparents, nurses have been trying their best with loving non-violence to get politicians and big business to do something about the dire state of our planet. And this is how the establishment responds.
"In a world of misinformation, where lies travel faster than the truth, we can’t help but wonder was this a deliberate attempt to silence a legitimate cause? Wouldn’t it be nice if they focused on the real extremists: the fossil fuel companies and those that do their bidding."
Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, also criticised the decision on Twitter, saying the decision to list Extinction Rebellion was "indefensible".
Home Secretary's decision to list XR as a terror group is indefensible, and strikes at right to protest. May well be challenged in the courtshttps://t.co/8hTetdUugo— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) January 13, 2020
Speaking on LBC Radio, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said that although Extinction Rebellion was "obviously a protest organisation", the police were right to gather intelligence on it.
"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. You develop your policy approach accordingly."