Extinction Rebellion activist who dressed as Boris Johnson and climbed up Big Ben arrested

Joe Gamp
Contributor, Yahoo News UK
A climate activist dressed as Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures after climbing scaffolding and unfurling banners on Big Ben (GETTY)

A climate change activist who climbed up the side of Big Ben the day before Parliament sits for a special Brexit session has been arrested.

The man - an Extinction Rebellion climate change protester - was pictured climbing up scaffolding on Friday afternoon at around 4pm, where he spent around three hours on the structure.

The group named the man as 43-year-old tree surgeon Ben Atkinson.

An Extinction Rebellion protester who has scaled the scaffolding surrounding Big Ben at the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)

He appeared to be making his way down at around 6pm after more than two hours on the scaffolding, but then started going back up again.

Police used a lift to bring him down and he was arrested at around 6.45pm.

Mr Atkinson was seen dressed as Boris Johnson as he climbed up the side of the Elizabeth Tower, in Westminster, central London.

He later showed two flags, with one reading “Citizens Assembly”, the other bearing the Extinction Rebellion logo on top of the colours of the LGBTQ flag, reading: "No Pride on a dead planet".

Metropolitan Police tweeted: "Police were called at 15:33hrs on Friday, 18 October to reports of a man climbing up scaffolding surrounding Big Ben. Officers from the Met's rope team were on scene.

"At approx. 18:45hrs the man, aged in his 40s, was arrested under Section 128 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 - trespass on a protected site.

“He has been taken into custody."

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 18: Extinction Rebellion activist Ben Atkinson climbs scaffolding on Big Ben at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on October 18, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Westminster Bridge and parts of Whitehall were closed by the emergency services, while a heavy police presence remains in the area.

Writing on Facebook after scaling the scaffolding, Mr Atkinson said: "We got the declaration of climate emergency last time.

“Now perhaps, please Boris, you're struggling to navigate Brexit let alone work our way out of the sixth mass extinction event. Please. Pretty please.... let's get on with the citizens assembly. Thank's Boris."

He added: "I know somewhere in there you have compassionate feelings towards something other then your career.”

The official Extinction Rebellion Twitter account released a statement, saying Mr Atkinson could “face terrorism charges”.

It read: “This rebel is desperate. The government is not listening, not telling the truth, not acting to protect us in the face of calamity. He faces terrorism charges. He faces jail. This is an emergency & is there is barely any time to do anything to mitigate it.

“Can you imagine what it is like to know that we have lost 60% of wildlife since 1970, that 97% of meadows are gone, that the weather our crops depend on is distorting - they won't grow in years to come? The government obsesses over short term issues amid the 6th mass extinction.

A climate protester demonstrates with banners on the scaffolding covering the Elizabeth Tower that houses the Big Ben clock in London, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

“Desperation drives you to all sorts & each person decides for themselves what to do. #ExtinctionRebellion is a community that supports, loves, celebrates, calms people down in times of stress.This is a regenerative community of people confronting humankind's greatest threat.

“To all the deniers, delayers, trolls & troublemakers - the challenge to you now to get serious, this is an emergency! We are hypocrites, we are attention seekers, we are making a difference against all the odds. We are brave in your abuse, this is for life, this is for you.”

A public order ban has been put in place on Extinction Rebellion activities in London since Monday.