A YOUNG Scottish protester was among the first people to appear in court yesterday in mass hearings for those charged in connection with the Extinction Rebellion protests in London in April.

Peter Tyler, 20, of Muasdale, in Argyll and Bute, was the youngest to plead guilty to knowingly failing to comply with a condition imposed by a senior police officer under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986.

Ten people have already been to court facing criminal charges in relation to the protest, but yesterday was the first mass hearings, with two courts being set aside every Friday to deal with up to 50 defendants at a time – solicitor Raj Chada said the prosecutions are a waste of money and the number “beggars belief.”

The climate change protesters, who range in age from 20 to 76, were accused of failing to comply with an order to stick to an allocated area near Marble Arch in central London.

Tyler and the others who pleaded guilty to the offences relating to the April 17 Waterloo Bridge protest – including oldest defendant Caroline Hunt, 76, of Bristol who admitted to the same offence on Waterloo Bridge on April 21 – were given conditional discharges and will be sentenced at a later date.

Out of the 29 pleas entered yesterday, eight were guilty and 21 were not. The latter group will face trials in September and October.

The hearings, which continued all day in two court rooms simultaneously, were the first to result from the arrests of more than 1100 people during the Extinction Rebellion protests.

The climate change activists brought central London to a halt over a period of days in April, making headlines in the UK and abroad. Those arrested included Olympic gold medal-winning canoeist Etienne Stott.

So far 232 files of evidence have been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after the Metropolitan Police said they would push for every arrested person to be prosecuted.

Already some 180 people have been charged, one cautioned for outraging public decency and 32 released with no further action. The hundreds of others remain under consideration for charges.

At the time it was reported that the group’s tactics included asking volunteers to deliberately get arrested to cause maximum disruption at roadblocks on Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Marble Arch, while others glued themselves to trains and buildings.

Yesterday the first set of defendants were asked to enter guilty or not guilty pleas during the hearings which took place at City of London Magistrates’ Court.

Simon Kitt, 25, of Newton Abbot, pleaded guilty to the same offence as Tyler, also relating to Waterloo Bridge on April 21 2019.

Speaking outside court afterwards, Kitt said: “It’s beautiful to see everyone here showing such support for the cause.

“It’s been really nice having everyone around and it just shows the depth of the support that this cause really has.”