Wirral Council Leader says ‘Just Stop Oil’ had a right to protest

Wirral’s council leader said Just Stop Oil protestors who interrupted the Open had a right to protest.

Four people were arrested during The Open Championship in Hoylake that was held on the Wirral last week with the protest taking place on Friday 21 July.

Cllr Paul Stuart, who leads Wirral Council said he wasn’t sure if the international event was the right venue for it but “people have got a right to protest.”

Footage from the 17th hole appeared to show protesters attempting to get onto the green, with smoke bombs set off in the colour of the group’s branded orange.

One protester can be seen sitting on the playing green, while others appeared to be detained by security personnel. Images which emerge afterwards showed two individuals in ‘Just Stop Oil’ shirts being led away by police.

The protest group has interrupted several major events in recent months including Wimbledon 2023, the Ashes, and the 2023 World Snooker Championship. Before the event took place, organisers of the event said they were engaging with protest groups to try and avoid any disruption.

Cllr Stuart said, “People have got a right to protest and I don’t think that should be deprived of people, whether it was the right venue or not I don’t know but I am sure that the protestors will say it was the right venue because it was an international televised event around the world.”

The event is believed to have brought more than 250,000 people to Wirral, as well as an expected £100m to the Liverpool City Region. Despite some issues raised around parking restrictions, many on social media have called the event a resounding success.

When asked if he felt the same, Cllr Stuart said, “I think so, it’s a positive thing for the Wirral. If you look at the amount of tourism that came in to Liverpool through Eurovision and the amount of visitors we got from the Open. It is a success and a positive thing for the Wirral as well as the Liverpool City Region.”

A statement from Merseyside Police on Friday said: “We can confirm four people have been arrested following an incident at The Open this afternoon, Friday 21 July.

“Two males and two females were quickly detained by both stewards and officers and they were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage and public nuisance. They will be taken into police custody to be questioned.

“Merseyside Police respects the right to protest and expression of views but antisocial, criminal behaviour or disorder will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly.

“Police and R&A management will be looking to ensure the activities of anyone who wants to protest don’t disrupt the event itself and if necessary we will used relevant legislation to deal those people involved in it.

“Contingency plans are in place to visitors enjoy these events in safety and with minimal disruption.”

Image: Wirral Council leader Paul Stuart. Credit: Edward Barnes

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