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#AceNewsDesk – Protesters who targeted National Gallery painting face trial accused of criminal damage according to Mail Online by David Pilditch
Hannah Hunt, 23, and Eben Lazarus, 22, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday over allegations they caused £1,081.49 in damage after targeting John Constable’s The Hay Wain in the protest in London on July 4.
They plastered the masterpiece with images portraying a future apocalypse before gluing their hands to the frame. The security breach, which took place in front of a class of visiting schoolchildren, led to the gallery being evacuated.
The pair denied criminal damage and the case was adjourned at Westminster Magistrates Court. They will face trial at the court on November 3.
Hannah Hunt, 23, (left) and Eben Lazarus, 22, (right) appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday over allegations they caused £1,081.49 in damage after targeting John Constable’s The Hay Wain in the protest in London on July 4
Hunt, from Brighton, and Lazarus, from Wiltshire, were wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the Just Stop Oil logo when they stepped over a rope barrier at the National Gallery last month as security guards looked on.
The pair are accused of ‘intending to destroy or damage’ the painting and frame, or ‘being reckless as to whether such property would be destroyed or damaged.’
Psychology student Hunt and Lazarus, who is studying music, said their re-imagined version of the 1821 painting – which depicts a rural scene on the River Stour in Suffolk – showed ‘a nightmare scene that demonstrates how oil will destroy our countryside’.
Ms Hunt said after the protest: ‘Yes, there is glue on the frame of this famous painting but there is blood on the hands of our government.
‘The disruption will end as soon as the UK government makes a meaningful statement that will end new oil and gas licenses.’
After the incident, the National Gallery said ‘minor damage’ had been caused to the frame, as well as ‘disruption to the surface of the varnish on the painting’.
Art historians and experts have previously raised concerns that the vandals, who have participated in multiple Just Stop Oil protests, could have caused irreparable damage to the 19th century masterpiece.
Just Stop Oil activists glue themselves to National Gallery painting
Hunt co-founded student-led Just Stop Oil in February, marching on No 10 to tell Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ‘intervene’ to prevent ‘the ultimate crime against our country, humanity and life on Earth’.
The aspiring psychologist has become a hero among eco-zealot supporters of the group, which formed as a breakaway of Extinction Rebellion.
Just Stop Oil has been routinely demonstrating across the UK with the organisation’s most recent protest having taken place just last week.
More than 50 protesters tried to decommission the pumps at petrol stations across West and South London last Friday.
They were seen smashing screens, covering pumps with spray paint and blocking entrances before they sat down to await arrest.
In some locations, Just Stop Oil supporters blocked access to the petrol pumps by sitting in the road with banners to stop drivers filling up their cars.
Their efforts followed earlier protests last week that caused the closure of four fuel stations at motorway services on the M25 on Wednesday.
The group said it had timed this latest actions to coincide with the announcement by Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) that the average household energy bill will be capped at £3,549 from October 1.
Police arrested 137 protesters from Just Stop Oil last week. The total number of arrests since the campaign began on April 1 now stands at 1,296 as the protesters demanded the government end new oil and gas projects in the UK.
Just Stop Oil has also warned it will occupy Westminster starting from October 3.
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