NEWSAGENTS today blasted the selfish Extinction Rebellion protesters for slashing their sales with their "pointless" print blockade.
Customers were confronted with empty newsstands this morning after the eco-activists stopped papers from being delivered across the country.
And retailers – already hit by the coronavirus pandemic – were left frustrated as they were forced to turn away customers desperate for news.
Speaking to the Sun Online, Barbara Etchells, who owns the C&W Etchells newsagents in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, said she was worried her bottom line would be hit by the lack of sales.
She said: "This is all we needed after everything that's been going on with coronavirus.
"It's a nightmare for a newsagent not to have any papers."
The 46-year-old added: "We will have lost quite a bit of money as we have a lot of people who come in early for their paper and of course they buy other things too.
"It's been very frustrating."
Speaking from his newsagency at Hancocks in Halstead, Rob Stevenson added: "XR protesters try to make a point on TV and they think the way ahead is by upsetting people, the more exposure they get.
"Each time they do this [protest] they upset more people. I don’t think upsetting the working class man is the way to go."
One newsagent, Nicky, told Times Radio that she had to lay off the paperboys and girls this morning.
She voiced fears that older customers and those shielding who relied on hard copies would not be able to get their news today.
One pensioner told The Sun Online how he walks to Morrisons every day to buy the Sun – but was left distraught and "disconnected" unable to buy one.
Home Secretary Priti Patel and The Sun today condemned the attack on the free press, with Ms Patel saying it was "completely unacceptable".
Almost 80 protesters have so far been arrested across Hertfordshire and Merseyside after blockading the printing presses – some gluing themselves to the road or using bamboo to lock themselves to vehicles.
The activist group said it was in rebellion with the media with today the middle of ten days of action for climate change.
But businesses across the UK hit out at the demonstrations, with delivery rounds forced to be scrapped at the 11th hour as newspapers were unable to be released from the printworks.
Neelesh Parekh, 45, owner of Reed newsagents in Portsmouth, said: “We haven’t received the Sun, Times and Telegraph. I’m very angry. Our customers rely on the papers, especially on a Saturday when people come in very early in the morning and they expect to buy the paper.
"The protests that Extinction Rebellion is carrying out are ridiculous. We don’t know how long the protests are going to continue. We’ve just got to hold our breath really."
Amanda Godfrey, 52, manager of Robinsons News, Exeter, added: "The protests are ridiculous. They are affecting people’s livelihoods – they are doing a huge disservice to the country by stopping the flow of news."
Saqib Shabbit, 38, who runs Khawaja Brothers newsagents in Chorlton, said regular customers had been left confused by the empty shelves.
Another newsagents wrote on Twitter: "If you’re trying to gain support for your cause, you’re going the wrong way about it!
"I work nights in a supermarket and then come to run a newsagents, on no sleep, where we now face financial penalties and disruption due to your protests!"
And another Brit dad took to social media, saying: "Took my lad 4 his paper round this morning at 6.30 & felt sorry for the old folk he delivers 2 who couldn’t be delivered the Sun, Times & Telegraph they were looking forward to."
The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) said it condemned the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations.
National president Stuart Reddish said: "Our members up and down the country have been left without supplies of the Times, Sun, Daily Mail and Telegraph and are having to deal with angry customers who are unable to get their daily newspaper.
"This also impacts massively on our home news delivery operations. Many members have reported that their newspaper deliverers have been left hanging around as their deliveries have failed to arrive.
"It also means we are unable to get newspapers to our elderly and vulnerable customers.
"Newsagents have played a critical role during Covid-19 in getting newspapers into the hands of readers and this is not helpful at a time when every sale counts."
Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted this morning, saying: "This morning people across the country will be prevented from reading their newspaper because of the actions of Extinction Rebellion.
"This attack on our free press, society and democracy is completely unacceptable."
The protests were organised despite newspapers campaigning and highlighting climate change for years – with The Sun today running a comment piece from Sir David Attenborough urging the public to take the opportunity to tackle the climate crisis.
Today, Sir David Attenborough wrote in The Sun to say humanity is at a crossroads, saying: “The fewer demands we make on the planet’s resources, the better.
“We do that in terms of food, in terms of energy, in terms of being respectful to the environment. We can do lots of things.”
The national treasure said: "Humanity is at a crossroads. The natural world is under serious threat and the consequences could be apocalyptic."
ATTACK ON FREE PRESS
Sir David also warned against committing criminal acts, even in the name of a just cause, arguing: “I don’t think it is sensible politics to break the law.
"If you are any good at all, some of your demands will be met and then you will be demanding people abide by those new laws.
“You can’t have it both ways.”
And Piers Morgan tweeted about Sir David's comment piece for The Sun being prevented from hitting the stands due to the eco-warriors today, saying: "The irony of this is fabulous. Extinction Rebellion are such unutterable morons."
Meanwhile Labour MP Dawn Butler this morning deleted a tweet praising the protesters.
A spokesperson for Newsprinters said: "Overnight printing at two Newsprinters plants was disrupted by activity by Extinction Rebellion.
"Thanks to other industry partners, printing was transferred to other sites. We apologise sincerely to any readers of The Sun, The Times, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times who may be unable to buy their usual newspaper this morning due to late deliveries.
"Our teams are working to get newspapers delivered to retailers as soon as possible this morning.
"This attack on all of the free press impacted many workers going about their jobs.
"Overnight print workers, delivery drivers, wholesale workers and retail newsagents have faced delays and financial penalty.
"This is a matter for the Police and the Home Office."
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