Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Climate activist who poured human faeces over memorial to Captain Tom spared jail

Maddie Budd pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage following protest earlier this month

Matt Mathers
Wednesday 26 October 2022 17:11 BST
Protester pours human faeces all over Captain Tom statue

A climate activist who poured human faeces over a memorial for the late war veteran Captain Sir Tom Moore in protest at the use of private jets has been spared jail.

Maddie Budd, a 21-year-old former medical student, pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage at a hearing earlier this month.

On Wednesday Budd, of Kedleston Avenue, Manchester, was sentenced to 21 weeks in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, suspended for 18 months. She was also ordered to pay £200 compensation.

Maddie Budd pouring human waste on tribute on a tribute to Captain Tom (End UK Private Jets)

On 1 October a video was posted to social media showing a woman pouring what she said was human excrement over a life-sized statue of the WWII veteran in Thistley Meadow, Hatton, south Derbyshire.

In a separate video Budd identified herself as the person who carried out the stunt, on behalf of a pressure group calling itself End UK private jets.

She was later charged by Derbyshire Police for criminal damage and spent three weeks in prison after her plea as she awaited sentence.

The stunt caused “outrage amongst society” after it was filmed and shared on social media, the court heard on Wednesday.

Prosecutor David Burns added that “serious distress has been caused” and told the court: “Captain Tom was a figure well-known to the public.

“His work and charity had a great impact during the Covid crisis,” he said. “The matter has caused some outrage amongst society in general.”

Captain Tom Moore raised millions of pounds for the NHS during the pandemic (PA Archive)

Sir Tom shot to national fame when he raised almost £33 million for NHS charities during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic by walking laps of his garden in the run up to his 100th birthday.

He was later knighted by the Queen before he died with Covid-19 in February 2021.

“She has expressed she will not undertake actions such as this in the future,” said Katie McFadden, defending the former Manchester University medical student.

“She has clearly reflected on the impact of her actions and expressed how she is sorry for any offence caused to the family of Captain Tom.”

Budd was in breach of a conditional discharge, imposed earlier this year for an invasion of the Oval cricket ground when she targeted the statue – a silhouette of Sir Tom – while wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “End UK private jets”.

Budd has been living in a caravan, the court heard (End UK Private Jets)

She was also under investigation by two police forces and due to appear before magistrates by postal requisition.

Ms McFadden said Budd had been living in a caravan with a chemical toilet, so the substance was “readily available” and that she had cleaned the statue following the action using water and tissue paper.

“The thought process behind this was to cause moral disruption, to draw people’s attention to the things that are going on in the world around her, to try and make people feel something, to try and get a visceral reaction so people will stand up and start to take notice of the climate crisis,” she said.

District Judge Louisa Cieciora said: “You had clearly thought about what would cause the most amount of outrage and publicity,” she told Budd, from Kington, Herefordshire. The cost of repair was low, around £200.

“Although the substance you used was deliberately chosen as being the most demeaning and disgraceful as possible, equally it was a substance which can be easily cleaned.”

The judge noted her young age and her deeply held views on climate change, adding: “Given your actions could not or have not achieved what you wanted them to and you want to find a better way to express your message… I am just about persuaded I can suspend your sentence.”

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in