No show for Big Ben climber

An Extinction Rebellion protestor who scaled Big Ben in a green leotard and blonde Boris Johnson wig has failed to appear in court.

Tree surgeon Benjamin Atkinson, 43, spent three hours on the Queen Elizabeth Tower’s scaffolding after evading police to climb the scaffolding.

In costume, he scaled the tower and unfurled a rainbow flag from the scaffolding carrying the XR logo which read: ‘No pride on a dead planet’.

A warrant was briefly issued for his arrest today (tues) after an email requesting the tree surgeon be excused from appearing was not shown to the court in time for his hearing.

Atkinson expressed concern at the warrant through his solicitor and agreed to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court tomorrow (weds) at 2pm.

Prosecutor Robert Simpson said no specific reason for Atkinson’s failing to attend was given.

‘We simply can’t have that, we need a case management form, we need to find out what the issues are, we need a plea issued personally,’ he said.

Jenny Winter, defending, said: ‘I have spoken to Mr Atkinson, he is very concerned that a warrant has been issued, he did rely on information he had been given by his Liverpool solicitors.

Chief Magistrate Sonia Henley said: ‘We accept that Mr Atkinson will present himself here tomorrow and withdraw the warrant.’

Crowds had gathered at Westminster during the three hour stunt at 3:30pm on 18 October last year.

While on the scaffolding he told Sky News by phone: ‘I don’t think Boris is doing his job properly – he needs to get past Brexit and start thinking about the sixth mass extinction event that’s happening as we speak.’

Atkinson, of Rydal, Cumbria, is being prosecuted for trespassing on a designated protected site under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

The maximum sentence for the offence is six months jail and or a fine not exceeding £5,000.

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