Bailiff's specialist climbers defect

The Guardian March 8 1996

Gary Younge

ALMOST half the specialist climbers brought to Newbury by bailiffs to help evict treetop protesters resigned yesterday after intense pressure from climbers helping the environmentalists.

Three professional climbers out of eight recruited to remove the protesters so that work on the bypass could continue, hung up their ropes yesterday.

Two, Peter Perchowski and Paul Luton, are from Sheffield. The third has yet to be named. None were available to speak to the press last night.

«Some of the climbers on our side had actually trained these guys and I think they were a bit embarrassed,» said Graham, a veteran protester. «We've got about eight professional climbers from the north of England who have volunteered to support us and make sure we can stay up in the trees for as long as possible.»

The protesters hailed the defections as a victory but thought it unlikely that there would be many more.

Jim Perrin, director of the British Mountain Festival Association, said those working for the bailiffs had abused their climbing skills against people who most climbers consider their natural allies. «The mountaineering community is very small and it has been made clear to them that they will be ostracised if they continue,» he said.

A workman suffered spinal injuries in a fall. Stadd at the Royal Berkshire hospital in Reading said the 25-year-old man, who had been working with a chainsaw, was «alert».

Meanwhile, a protester sustained leg injuries when he was hauled from a tree by bailiffs last night.