The head of a new UK climate science denial group calling for a referendum on the country’s net zero goal falsely claimed to have been evicted from COP26 and forced to hide in a toilet earlier this week, according to organisers.
Lois Perry, director of CAR26 – which questions whether carbon dioxide has a “significant role in global warming” – appeared on talkRADIO on Monday claiming security tried to “bundle” her out of the press area at the UN climate summit in Glasgow because “they don’t want free speech”.
But Perry was at a fringe event which is not part of the official summit, and organisers say she was asked to leave a private sponsor’s meeting room. She initially refused, before visiting a disabled toilet and then leaving the building “of her own accord”, they say.
CAR26 was registered as a company in September and commissioned a YouGov poll on public support for a referendum on government climate policies, which was published on the front page of the Telegraph at the end of October.
Perry is an associate at PR company 6 Hillgrove, a regular on Jeremy Vine’s chat show, and the South East Representative of Laurence Fox’s Covid-sceptic Reclaim Party.
Three former Hillgrove clients – Naked Energy, SaveMoneyCutCarbon and Vivienne Westwood – distanced themselves from Perry after DeSmog reported her views on climate science.
‘I’m in the Disabled Loos’
In a tweet on Monday, Perry said: “At COP26 before being chased, hiding in the disabled loos to do my interview with Talk Radio and my then subsequent eviction xx”.
She then appeared on talkRADIO for an interview with host Mike Graham, who recently made the news for claiming that it is possible to grow concrete.
The interview clip on Twitter, which Perry also shared, was captioned: “Spokeswoman Lois Perry calls Mike while hiding in the disabled toilets at COP26 after security tried to remove her from the press area.”
In the interview Perry said: “They tried to evict me. I’m in the disabled loos, and I think they’re banging on the door at the moment.”
She acknowledged she was “in the Innovation Zone at COP26” run by sustainable business organisation Climate Action and Scottish Enterprise. The Innovation Zone is a fringe event promoting public-private partnerships and not part of the official COP26 conference.
A COP26 spokesperson confirmed they understood the incident “did not occur within the COP26 site.”
When asked on talkRADIO why she was allegedly evicted, Perry said: “They don’t want free speech, Mike, that’s why. They don’t want anyone with any different views, so they just tried to bundle me out of the press area, and they’ve followed me. I think they might be waiting outside.”
“When I said I was going to be on talkRADIO she immediately got suspicious. She went and got some burly security guys.” She added: “They don’t want a debate. They’ve just made me hide in the disabled toilets.”
‘Left of Her Own Accord’
However, Innovation Zone organisers told DeSmog this was a false account of what happened.
A Climate Action spokesperson said: “I can confirm that Ms Perry was not asked to leave the Innovation Zone. She was asked to vacate a sponsor’s private meeting room and was uncompliant saying she was about to go live on TV.
“She subsequently left the meeting room of her own accord, was then seen entering the disabled toilet before leaving the venue of her own accord.”
Host Mike Graham closed the interview by saying: “So much for democracy. But these are the same people by the way who say that there is no further room for debate on the subject of climate change.
“They don’t want you to debate them. They want you to believe everything they say, and they want you to pay up, and just empty your pockets, give them all your money, and they’ll fly it off on their private jets back to wherever it is there private island is.”
‘Do Not Feed the Trolls’
Jennie King, senior manager for civic action and education at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a thinktank that is monitoring information attacks on climate action during COP26, said Perry’s stunt was “straight from the disinformation playbook”.
“Anti-climate actors rely on a reactionary dynamic with ‘mainstream’ institutions, media or experts, and cultivate their brand, especially on social media, around being ‘cancelled’ or outcast by perceived elites”, she said.
Referring to the talkRADIO interview, King added: “talkRADIO has consistently amplified stories of this nature and, within the UK at least, is proving a key vector for laundering more extreme climate denial and delayer positions into the public debate.
“Our recommendation: do not feed the trolls, and always check the credentials and affiliations of online pundits before giving them a soap box.”
Lois Perry, CAR26 and talkRADIO did not respond when contacted for comment.