Protestor who sought David Attenborough cleared in court as activists target Scott's Mayfair

20 March 2023 by
Protestor who sought David Attenborough cleared in court as activists target Scott's Mayfair

A climate activist who refused to leave a Dorset restaurant and demanded to speak to Sir David Attenborough has been cleared of failing to comply with a dispersal order on the same day Animal Rebellion protestors occupied tables at Mayfair restaurant Scott's.

Body-worn police camera footage showed Emma Smart, 45, refusing to leave the shop under the Catch at the Old Fishmarket restaurant in Weymouth, in November last year. The protester was seen demanding to speak to veteran broadcaster Attenborough, who was dining upstairs with his production team while filming his latest series Wild Isles.

After refusing to leave Smart was dragged from the Michelin-listed restaurant by two police officers, assisted by the restaurant's owner. Once outside footage showed that she continued to shout up at the restaurant from the pavement until the officers issued her with a Section 35 dispersal order. Moments later, the officers arrested her for failing to comply.

On Friday, after a one-day trial, Deputy District Judge Clare Boichot found Smart not guilty at Poole Magistrates' Court. The judge said: "I'm not satisfied this was a reasonable amount of time to comply with the notice". She noted that the whole incident had lasted less than 18 minutes and that Smart was given "just seconds" to disperse before her arrest.

On the same day Smart was acquitted 15 Animal Rebellion activists occupied reserved tables at Scott's restaurant in Mayfair to protest the farming of meat and seafood. Diners at the restaurant had included James Bond and Mamma Mia! star Pierce Brosnan, who is reported to have spoken with one of the protesters.

Scott's is the latest restaurant to have service disrupted by Animal Rebellion protesters following occupations of venues including Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London and Mana in Manchester.

After Restaurant Gordon Ramsay was forced to temporarily close a spokesperson for the venue said: "Everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs. However, to force your way into a restaurant, disturbing hard-working staff going about their jobs and ruining the evening of guests who have waited months for their reservations is incredibly inappropriate and deeply disrespectful."

When Mana was occupied a month later chef Simon Martin said he and his team had tried to politely ask protesters to leave but that they had refused to engage.

Martin added: "Whilst everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs, we are confused as to why the protestors chose to target a restaurant that prioritises sustainability and animal welfare."

A spokesperson for Scott's, said: "All of our seafood suppliers adhere to strict government guidelines and all of the fish on our menu is sustainably caught. Our fish is only taken from boats that are licensed to fish their quotas in an ethical way."

Animal Rebellion has said it will continue to target high-end restaurants until the government "takes meaningful action on the climate and ecological emergencies".

Image: Protestors at Scott's on Friday evening

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