Richard Walton, former Head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command (SO15), has warned environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion are an extreme anarchist group pursuing a “subversive agenda” should be treated as such.
He has also demanded that the Home Office audit the financial cost of the unlawful protest activity undertaken by Extinction Rebellion, and cautioned that it is “not inconceivable” members of the movement “might at some point break with organisational discipline and engage in violence”.
— Police Spies Out of Lives (@out_of_lives) July 18, 2019
"The ‘civil resistance model’ they espouse is intended to achieve mass protest accompanied by law-breaking — leading eventually to the breakdown of democracy and the state. Obscured from public view, these objectives mark Extinction Rebellion’s campaign out as an extremist one that seeks to break down the established civil order and liberal democracy in the UK," he added.
“Many followers of Extinction Rebellion are completely unaware of this secondary objective, despite it being readily espoused by their leaders in YouTube posts of their speeches and in their publications. Celebrities, politicians and members of the public have been seduced into believing that Extinction Rebellion’s methods and tactics are honourable and justified, when clearly they are not,” he said.
Walton’s comments have been widely condemned by the group’s supporters on social media, with many drawing attention to the former SO15 chief’s acrimonious departure from his post.
— Extinction Rebellion 🌻 (@ExtinctionR) July 17, 2019
In March 2014, the Ellison Review into corruption and spying around the Stephen Lawrence Murder Inquiry revealed Walton had a meeting with an undercover officer infiltrating campaign groups working closely with the family of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence family, at a time when he was part of the Lawrence Review Team, preparing the Metropolitan Police’s submissions and responses to the Macpherson Inquiry into the failed murder investigation.
Ellison was critical of the meeting taking place, calling it 'wrong-headed' and noted it could’ve sparked disorder if it had become publicly known. Due to resultant public outcry, Walton was temporarily removed from his post and his conduct was referred to the Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC). He was reinstated December 2014, but in May the next year the IPCC announced the investigation was continuing and being widened, leading him to resign in January 2016 before
In January 2016 it emerged that Walton was retiring ahead of any outcome, a move that would allow him to avoid disciplinary hearings following the IPCC submitting its findings to the Metropolitan Police - namely, that he had a case to answer, because his actions could have potentially undermined the public inquiry into the case and public confidence in it.