Cosmetics tycoon funds aviation protest group

A multi-millionaire who provided funding for climate change protesters who broke into Stansted Airport on Monday has offered to pay their legal fees. Mark Constantine, 56, a co-founder of the cosmetics company Lush, uses some of its profits and his own money to support the work of the pressure group Plane Stupid.

Yesterday, he said he would give more of his own cash to help the 56 people arrested after this week's stunt to pay their legal costs. Mr Constantine is the majority owner of Lush, a private company he co-founded in 1995, and does not have to answer to its other shareholders. Profits from the sales of certain Lush products are donated to environmental, animal welfare and humanitarian groups. The company's website describes Plane Stupid as a "peaceful, imaginative, direct action group working to highlight aviation's contribution to climate change". Members of the group cut though a perimeter fence at Stansted in Essex in the early hours of Monday. They chained themselves to a makeshift barrier close to the runway, forcing the closure of the airport and the cancellation of dozens of flights. Police have charged 49 people over the protest and freed seven on bail. Mr Constantine, pictured, said: "I will be supporting them as much as I possibly can. I will be funding some of their court costs. Hopefully, the Government will be kind to them.

"I do find it a bit odd that environmental protesters can be suddenly treated as terrorists. Surely, it is a good thing that they are encouraging everybody to think about the environment. I cannot see much wickedness in it."

The tycoon said he was too scared to join the protesters in person but was happy to finance their cause. Lush has 600 shops in 44 countries and an annual turnover of £145m.