Saturday, October 4, 2008

Protesters Dressed as Penguins in the UK

Rachel Whittaker, pictured here with Graham Bunn campaigning in Telford Town ParkAn environmental campaigner who was thrown out of Telford Town Park claims she has been banned from handing out leaflets at a green-themed community day.

Penguin Protester in Event ‘Ban’

Rachel Whittaker, of Wellington, said she had been invited to distribute leaflets about climate change at tomorrow’s Madeley Green Day. Now she claims her invitation has been revoked by the organisers.

She said: “We were invited to Madeley Green Day but then Madeley Parish Council withdrew the offer without explanation.

“A request was made by the council to see the leaflets, but before we even had contacted it to do so, the offer was withdrawn.

“We had actually said we weren’t prepared to do that, but the council did not know we were going to refuse.”

Ms Whittaker, who said she will be going to hand out leaflets anyway, said: “We believe the council is deliberately trying to censor us.

“The council is claiming it is committed to green issues, but it isn’t committed to people who really want to do something about it.”

In August, Ms Whittaker and her friend Neil Donaldson, from Wrekin Stop War, were ordered out of Telford Town Park while dressed as penguins and handing out climate change leaflets.

The pair were told they should have obtained a Criminal Records Bureau check and risk assessment to distribute leaflets. The incident sparked huge debate over people’s freedom to campaign in a public place.

Parish council chairman Dave Davies said Ms Whittaker’s invitation had been withdrawn because the council had not seen the leaflets.

He said: “It’s not a big issue, it’s just a mistake.

“She should really not have been invited, because we don’t know what organisation it is or what she is handing out. The leaflets had not been seen by us.”

Councillor Davies added: “Things could have been done better.”

The Green Day takes place in Madeley Park tomorrow, from 1pm to 5pm. Other attractions include a talk by Friends of the Earth, a heavy horses show, a demonstration by falconer Michael Thomas and a sawmill.

By Lizzie Yates

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