'Green suffragette' is freed despite breach of bail conditions

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The Independent Online

Tamsin Omond, the aristocratic founder of the environmentalist campaign group that tried to break into the Houses of Parliament on Monday evening, narrowly escaped jail yesterday after a judge decided not to keep her on remand despite a breach of bail conditions which forbade her from going near Westminster.

Miss Omond, the granddaughter of a baronet, is a leading light behind Climate Rush, a new women-led direct action protest movement against the Government's environmental policy.

Their march on Parliament marked the centenary of a similar "rush" on Parliament by the suffragette movement in 1908. The 23-year-old Cambridge graduate was one of five people arrested. Miss Omond was taken into custody for breaching bail conditions set after a similar protest. In February, she was banned from entering the Palace of Westminster after she climbed on to the roof of the Houses of Parliament to protest against planned expansion of Heathrow Airport.

Yesterday, she appeared at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court. District judge Michael Snow ruled Miss Omond had broken her bail conditions and warned she was in "grave peril" of being taken into custody if she repeated the breach, he freed her on bail again. He said: "I recognise a need for proportionality and one should hesitate from taking away bail from someone exercising their right to protest."

Speaking to The Independent following her release, the campaigner said she felt "extremely lucky" to have escaped jail. "I kept thinking I would have to go to jail. The legal advice was to expect being held on remand."

Miss Omond's campaign group hopes to capture public imagination by comparing the suffragette movement with protest against global inaction on climate change. "The suffragette movement defined a generation," she said. "We need the same level of commitment over climate change."

Miss Omond shot to fame in February when the "Commons Five" led news bulletins and were held under anti-terror legislation. Last July, she targeted then Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly's Docklands flat by blasting the sound of aircraft through her letterbox at 7.30am. If, on 11 November, she is found guilty for climbing on Parliament's roof, she could receive a penalty of 51 weeks in custody and a £5,000 fine.

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