*TRIGGER WARNING – THIS PAGE CONTAINS IMAGES SOME MAY FIND DISTRESSING*
Tim Hewes was on trial last Friday in the City of London Magistrates’ Court for criminal damage. Tim glued himself to The News Building, base of the Murdoch press in London, in October last year, obstructing the entrance to the building in protest against the influence Rupert Murdoch has had and continues to have on the lack of action on climate change. Tim was found guilty and was given a 9 month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £500 costs. In his powerful statement to the court he said:
“Murdoch has used [his] ‘untouchable power’ to ridicule and attempt to discredit the warnings of highly regarded humanitarian agencies and eminent ambassadors and activists for the planet. He has supported particular politicians who, in exchange of the immense power of the Murdoch media and for his financial backing, have continually and subtly thwarted adequate action on the climate crisis.
“I did [this action] for my friends in Mali, who are struggling with the desertification of their country due to climate change; for my Syrian friends, for the people of the Maldives that Murdoch derisively dismissed, and yes for the people who work in the News UK building, who … are voiceless and afraid to speak up; and I did it for my children and grandchildren.”
Tim had previously taken action at The News Building in August 2021 by sewing his lips shut in protest against the influence Rupert Murdoch’s malign influence has had and continues to have on the lack of action on climate change.
The full text of Tim’s statement is below
Tim Hewes Statement to the Court on 14th January 2022
I want to draw attention to the ways I have tried to highlight the burgeoning climate and ecological catastrophe and the pivotal role that Rupert Murdoch has had in that, and to explain why I felt it necessary to take the action that I did at the offices of Murdoch’s News Uk on 26th October.
I’m 71, and for the first 69 years of my life I have been a law abiding citizen. I have not dropped litter since I was 8. I have not cycled the wrong way up a street or on a pavement. I have never taken drugs. I was brought up to believe in justice and mercy, and this precept has governed my life and it still does. I acknowledge and uphold the professional commitment to law and order, of everyone here this morning.
I was senior partner, dental surgeon in Oxford for 27 year. I was a trustee and volunteer working regularly with a charity providing emergency dental treatment, to over 1,000 orphans in the Country of Maramuresh, in Romania for 10 years. I have worked with Bosnias refugees, providing primary care especially for those tortured by their teeth. For 10 years I was prime supporter for the Charity, The Mali Development Group, in a project working with street children in the capital Bamako, sub saharan West Africa, which I visited twice. I was ordained as a C of E priest in 2002. I served as a part-time non-stipendiary priest in Oxfordshire for the following 14 years, and for a few years I was civilian Officiating Chaplain to the Military at Dalton Barracks Abingdon.
More recently I had a short time supporting a family of Syrian refugees; the fundamental cause for the conflict and population movements of these refugees being climate change.
I have preached about and witnessed to climate change in church for the last 14 years. I’ve written over 200 letters to Prime Ministers, minsters of DEFRA, the Home Secretary, Minister for Education, for Transport, the Foreign Office, to Bishops, to Archbishops, to individual companies, including News Corp, which is run by the Murdoch family. I’ve had meetings with my MP’s and I’ve attended rallies and mass lobbies of MP’s.
On August the 2nd last year, I went to the News UK building, which is the UK centre for Murdoch media activities in the UK, which is near the Shard, and sewed my lips up as a mark of my total frustration that the influence Rupert Murdoch has had and continues to have on the lack of action on climate change.
It was also to demonstrate the terrible and violent havoc Murdoch’s actions have wreaked upon the world and to symbolically, make visible, this truth.
I was not aggressive or belligerent. It was of course a silent protest. I put 5 self adhesive A4 posters up. I then stood in front of the main entrance, within the building footprint, I sat in front of the entrance and I lay down in front of the entrance. During this the security people of the building directed everyone to use the side entrance which was a short distance round the corner of the building. I was not arrested on that day and no charges were brought against me by Murdoch’s News UK. Neither was my action against him covered in his multiple media outlets. No surprise there!
Rupert Murdoch has been a climate change denier, dissembler, and delayer for decades. He has suppressed a wealth of evidence based, peer reviewed scientific observations from thousands of preeminent scientists across the globe. If you doubt his power, here is a quote from Tom Watson MP, Hansard, UK House of Commons, September 9, 2010:
“The truth is that, in this house we are all in our own way scared of the Rebekah Brooks’s of this world. It is almost laughable that we sit here in Parliament, the central institution of our sacred democracy – among us are some of the most powerful people in the land – yet we are scared of the power that Rebekah Brooks wields without a jot of responsibility or accountability.
The barons of the media, with their red-topped assassins, are the biggest beasts in the modern jungle. They have no predators. They are untouchable. They laugh at the law: they sneer at Parliament. They have the power to hurt us and they do with gusto and precision, with joy and criminality. Prime Ministers quail before them, and that is how they like it.”
Murdoch has used this ‘untouchable power’ to ridicule and attempt to discredit the warnings of highly regarded humanitarian agencies and eminent ambassadors and activists for the planet. He has supported particular politicians who, in exchange of the immense power of the Murdoch media and for his financial backing; have continually and subtly thwarted adequate action on the climate crisis.
For example, Murdoch supported Tony Abbot’s election for Prime Minster In Australia in 2013. Abbot, who called the science of climate change “crap.”
Murdoch supported Donald Trump who famously said:- “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”
Murdoch and his media supported the election of Boris Johnson, who in December 2015 said:- “ global leaders were driven by a primitive fear that the present ambient warm weather is somehow caused by humanity; and that fear – as far as I understand the science – is equally without foundation.”
So backed by Murdoch, our current Prime Minister, denied climate change just 6 years ago, which was at the same time the Paris Climate Agreement was being signed .
For decades Murdoch’s News media has persistently sown doubts about human caused climate change. Despite some recent “fig-leaf operations” to give the appearance of taking climate change a bit more serious, Murdoch’s denial, dissembling and belittling of the science has been a ideological strategy of the Murdoch media for decades and remains so.
When Rupert Murdoch was speaking on Sky News with The Australian’s Editor-at-Large Paul Kelly. He said “the Maldives might disappear but we shouldn’t be building windmills and all that rubbish’: Murdoch also said that Australia’s contribution to climate change was virtually non-existent.
Scott Morrison, Australia’s current Prime Minister worked with Murdoch’s Fox News to convince Australians that bushfires had nothing to do with global warming, and he is still pushing ahead with the expansion of coal production in his country; supported, above all, by the Murdoch media.
In November 2020, just over a year ago on a tv panel question-time, Paul Kelly expressed the Murdoch view that; ‘if its ok for some aspects of the media to promote radical action on climate change, then its ok to be a propagandist for skepticism.” Malcolm Turnbull the former Prime Minister of Australia replied that this was turning physics into issues of values and identity and as sensible as denying gravity and that this attitude in the Murdoch media had done enormous damage to our world. Remember this just was a year ago.
So on both sides of the Atlantic as well as the Pacific, Murdoch’s broadcasters and newspapers are actively working to eliminate any serious climate policy. Murdoch’s son and heir-to-the-throne Lachlan reportedly shares his father’s insane view. But Murdoch’s son younger son James has tried to distance himself from his father’s myopic views and has spoken out about the News Corp coverage of climate change. This represents an admission by James, that the family media business is deceiving its readers and viewers by peddling climate change denial and disinformation. The US magazine The Daily Beast quoted an unnamed News Corp executive saying, the majority of people who work here agree with James.
This came just weeks after Emily Townsend, News Corp’s Australia’s commercial finance manager, blasted her employer in an email she distributed to senior staff for “contributing, to the spread of climate change denial and lies” and promoting a “misinformation campaign” on the cause of her country’s ongoing bushfires. She said:- “The reporting I have witnessed in The Australian, the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun is not only irresponsible but dangerous and damaging to our communities and beautiful planet that needs us more than ever, to acknowledge the destruction we have caused, and start doing something about it,”
The Murdoch press is manipulating public opinion (its up to individuals to change, its not that bad, technology will sort it) and is manipulating government action, subsidising flights and fossil fuels, to support the financial interests and power, of a few ultra-wealthy individuals. This has prevented the horror and urgency of climate breakdown being fully grasped by many, for years, and even now as the effects of climate change are evident and governments acknowledge it, the scale and speed of the action necessary to avert disaster, is just not there.
For someone to sew up their lips, is a shocking thing to have to do. People have done this in the past to express unspeakable frustration that their voices cannot be heard. I did this in August out of unspeakable frustration that climate science is not being heard, for the suffering and inhuman conditions developing due to climate chaos; out of despair and hopelessness for humanity.
Let us remember that in November the President of COP 26 Alok Sharma cried when he was speaking, because he knew the horror we are facing and the reality that not enough is being done. The Murdoch media covered this for one day on the front pages. Just one day and the next day – front pages, nothing on Climate.
What we are facing will effect the planet for 10,000 years. Everything displaces climate change in the Murdoch media, and yet the biggest crisis to face the planet since the last ice age is upon us. This is due in large part to the long term actions of one supremely powerful old man who will not have to live with the consequences as your children and my children will have to. Murdoch – the man who trashed the blue planet.
On 2nd August I was not arrested or charged with criminal damage or trespass or anything else, which I took as tacit approval, and so on 26th October, I returned to protest about Murdoch’s catastrophic effect on climate change, with my placards, which highlighted the power he exerts over our government and posed the question for discussion: “Is Rupert Murdoch the most destructive man in the history of planet earth?” I say he is, and that my actions have been proportionate, appropriate and necessary. I took this action to try to stop the damage Murdoch is doing. I did this to exercise my rights to protest under the Human Rights Act. My obstruction of the entrance on both occasions was limited and temporary. If necessary I would have asked one of my friends to get some solvent for me and I would have unstuck myself. If there was a fire I would have ripped my hand off. I believe its painful but can be done.
I did it for my friends in Mali, who are struggling with the desertification of their country due to climate change; for my Syrian friends, for the people of the Maldives that Murdoch derisively dismissed, and yes for the people who work in the News UK building, who agree with James Murdoch and are voiceless and afraid to speak up; and I did it for my children and grandchildren.
It was a tiny action, my feeble attempt to prevent cataclysmic harm.