Six arrested over alleged pro-Palestine activists’ plot to disrupt Stock Exchange

Six people have been arrested in connection with an alleged plot to disrupt the London Stock Exchange and cause “huge economic damage” after police were tipped off by a newspaper.

The Metropolitan Police began an investigation after being passed information on Friday by the Daily Express.

Activists from the Palestine Action group were allegedly plotting to “target” the London Stock Exchange on the morning of January 15, causing damage and “locking on”  to prevent the building from opening for trading, Scotland Yard said.

Stock Exchange
Protesters planned to block the entrance to the Stock Exchange to cause ‘huge economic damage’, the Express alleged (Nick Ansell/PA)

The Express reported that the plot would kickstart a planned “week of chaos”, while the Met added that there was a “suggestion that this was one part of a planned week of action”.

The newspaper said the group hoped to cause “huge economic damage” by climbing on top of two revolving doors at the front of the building, armed with  red paint-filled fire extinguishers, before locking their necks to the glass entrance using bike locks.

Other activists would lock themselves together in front of the main and back entrances, while fake bank notes, painted red to represent blood, were fired from “money guns”.

The allegations come after a two month investigation during which a reporter posed as a member of the group, the Express reported.

It claimed to have been in touch with the group’s ringleader, who said on the encrypted messaging app Signal that Monday’s plot was part of a week of action against British institutions “complicit in Israeli apartheid”.

The Met said it had arrested a 31-year-old man on Sunday in Liverpool on suspicion of conspiracy to cause criminal damage in relation to the incident.

A further five people, all believed to be part of the same alleged plot, were arrested later on Sunday on suspicion of conspiracy to cause criminal damage.

A 29-year-old woman was arrested in Albert Road, Brent, north London, and a 23-year-old man was arrested in Voss Street, Tower Hamlets, east London.

Two women, aged 28 and 26, were arrested in Liverpool, and a 27-year-old man was arrested in Brighton, East Sussex.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Palestine Action said the “campaign to end Israel’s weapons trade remains undeterred”.

Detective Superintendent Sian Thomas said: “We believe this group was ready to carry out a disruptive and damaging stunt which could have had serious implications had it been carried out successfully.

“I’m grateful to the Express for their willingness to provide the information gleaned from their own investigation. It was instrumental in helping us intervene successfully.

“Having only been provided with the material on Friday afternoon we had limited time to act.

“Mindful of the suggestion that this was one part of a planned week of action, we are in contact with the City of London Police as well as other forces across the UK to ensure that appropriate resources are in place to deal with any disruption in the coming days.”

The Palestine Action group told PA: “The London Stock Exchange raise billions of pounds for apartheid Israel and trade shares in weapons manufacturers which arm Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people.

“Whilst Britain remains complicit in the brutal colonisation of Palestine, our direct action campaign will not be deterred.”

Several members of the group, which formed in July 2020 and claims to want to shut down arms trade with Israel, have been the subject of legal action in recent months.

In December, eight activists were acquitted of a total 12 charges which included criminal damage, burglary and encouraging criminal damage, the group said, while its founder, Richard Barnard, was convicted of criminal damage for his involvement in action against an Elbit Ferranti factory in Oldham, Greater Manchester.

Seven activists currently face charges of burglary and criminal damage at a trial in Bristol Crown Court after allegedly entering Elbit’s headquarters in the city.