Police make arrests in Greenpeace 'polar bear' protest


Police have arrested a number of activists following a protest inside the headquarters of a Scottish firm involved in Arctic oil exploration.

About 60 Greenpeace campaigners had barricaded themselves in at Cairn Energy's offices in Edinburgh.

The activists, some of whom were dressed as polar bears, were protesting against Cairn's drilling operations in the Arctic.

Several people will appear in court on Tuesday in connection with the protest.

The occupation came only a few weeks after Cairn announced it had begun drilling at two wells off the coast of Greenland.

Campaigners have staged a series of protests in recent months, claiming Cairn has failed to explain how it would deal with a deep water drilling disaster similar to that which hit BP's Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico last year.

In the latest protest, Greenpeace said its activists "invaded" the company offices at about 0815 BST to demand that Cairn reveals its oil spill plans.

They also handed out leaflets to staff, urging them to become whistleblowers.

Police later started removing the protesters from the offices in Lothian Road in small groups.

During the occupation, Greenpeace UK campaigner Paul Morrozzo said it was "time for Cairn Energy to end their cover-up".

He added: "This cowboy oil company has consistently refused to release their Arctic oil spill response plans because they know any oil spill in the fragile and pristine environment of the High North would be impossible to clear up.

"It is normal oil industry practice for these documents to be made public but Cairn knows how completely inadequate their plans are, and how embarrassing it would be for them to have to face independent and expert scrutiny."

image captionGreenpeace said about 60 activists were taking part in the protest

In a statement, Cairn confirmed that a number of activists had staged a protest at its Edinburgh offices.

The company said some non-essential staff in affected parts of the building had been asked to go home and work from there.

In an earlier statement, the firm said it operated in a "safe and prudent manner" wherever it was active.

It continued: "The Greenland Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum has established some of the most stringent operating regulations anywhere globally, which mirror those applied in the Norwegian North Sea.

"It is in the interests of the Greenland Government to put in place the most stringent and robust measures."

The company added: "Cairn takes its responsibilities such as oil spill contingency and response plans very seriously."

Greenpeace has attempted to halt Cairn's Arctic drilling operations on several occasions this year.

In June, Greenpeace's international executive director, Kumi Naidoo, was arrested along with another campaigner after boarding the Cairn-operated Leiv Eiriksson rig off Greenland.

The arrests followed an injunction issued by a Dutch court, barring Greenpeace activists from approaching the drilling vessel.

Cairn, through its subsidiary Capricorn, operates 11 blocks off Greenland and plans to drill up to four wells off Greenland this summer.

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