Home Secretary Suella Braverman has taken aim at Chris Packham over his new TV show which questions whether climate activists can and should be undertaking illegal activities while protesting.
Set to hit screens next week, the documentary Chris Packham: Is It Time to Break the Law? will see the naturalist ‘attempt to resolve a key dilemma of our times’ over whether it is ethically acceptable to break the law to protest against government policies on climate change.
Speaking about the project on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday Chris, 62, insisted he wasn’t inciting violence, however when appearing on the show later in the morning, Braverman challenged his assertions.
When speaking with hosts Susanna Reid and Richard Madeley, Richard had said that the UK ‘should be a world leader’.
‘We have the capability to see opportunities when it comes to addressing climate breakdown, not just problems. We are heading in completely the wrong direction,’ he continued.
When interviewing the Home Secretary, Susanna explained: ‘He [Chris] said that this could mean that protestors will take their actions much further. That this could be seen as incitement to violence.’
In response, Braverman said she ‘disagreed totally’ with his point.
After being told by Richard that some people had suggested Chris was endorsing violence by not condemning it, the politician replied that it was ‘incredibly irresponsible and reckless’.
‘I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved over the last 10 years when it comes to the environment,’ she said.
During his appearance Chris had said that he had not incited any violence and had ‘no intention, at this point, of committing any violence myself’.
‘I’m not, therefore, leading by any form, or example. But it is my duty, in order to protect this planet at this critical time, to ask people to think very critically about their role in protecting it,’ he continued.
However Richard referenced recent road blockades during protests that had prevented ambulances getting through and said if Chris didn’t ‘condemn’ these actions, people might die.
‘You are a respected and respectable environmentalist and broadcaster. It’s you that’s endorsing it and saying, “I don’t condemn you if you do this” – it might sway them to do something that could end up killing somebody.’
However Chris said climate change was putting ‘millions of lives at risk’ while politicians were ‘making the wrong decisions’.
After Richard shared concerns made by viewers about some people watching the documentary possibly drawing the wrong conclusions and breaking the law to make their voice heard, Chris said: ‘But we also have governments all over the world, playing with the singularly, most explosive issue. They are trashing our climate. They are trashing our biodiversity.’
He also said the ‘chilling underlying fact’ of his documentary was that people were already thinking about violence towards property, like the infrastructure of the oil and gas industry.
‘We meet people who are already telling us that that’s probably on the agenda.’
Speaking about the laws governing protests, Chris questioned if we ‘wanted to live in a county’ where ‘you can’t even stand in the street with a t-shirt on without being dragged away’.
‘Is that the degree of freedom that we want taken away from us?
‘At the core of our democracy is our human right to protest and that human right is being eroded at a critical time in our species’ history. If we do not exercise that right, to use our voices, to change policies, to protect us and our future and that of our children and everything living on this planet, then I do not feel we are doing our duty.’
During the interview Chris said there was no incitement in the documentary to break the law, but it did present ‘very clear predictions that is what is likely to happen’.
Chris Packham: Is It Time to Break the Law? starts tonight at 9pm on Channel 4.
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays from 6am on ITV1.
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