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Priest sews his mouth shut over 'muting of climate science by Murdoch media'

A priest has sewn his lips together to protest against the alleged lack of climate coverage in Rupert Murdoch's media empire.
A priest has sewn his lips together to protest against the alleged lack of climate coverage in Rupert Murdoch's media empire.   -   Copyright  Christian Climate Action / Zoe Broughton
By Maeve Campbell

A priest has sewn his lips together to protest against the “suppression” of climate science in Rupert Murdoch's media outlets.

Reverend Tim Hewes, 71, carried out the symbolic act outside News UK’s office in Central London yesterday. It's home to the UK arm of Murdoch’s global news empire, News Corps.

In a video released on YouTube, Hewes calls Murdoch a “climate change denier, dissembler and delayer” and says the media mogul has influence over governments which has led to a lack of meaningful action on the climate crisis.

Alongside Hewes, a Church of England priest in the Diocese of Oxford and a former dentist, was Reverend Mark Coleman, 62. Coleman took a letter into the building addressed to the Environment Editor at The Times newspaper, asking him to meet and discuss the situation.

Who is behind the protest?

The Reverend is part of Christian Climate Action, a branch of the climate movement Extinction Rebellion.

The movement is preparing for a coordinated demonstration called ‘The Impossible Rebellion’, starting 23rd August.

Hewes is no stranger to climate action, having been jailed in March 2020 for 14 days for glueing himself to furniture at the City of London Magistrates' Court as part of the same protest group.

FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP or licensors
Extinction RebellionFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP or licensors

Why did he sew up his lips and what does he want to achieve?

Hewes says “sewing up the lips is an act of desperation” done by those who are “unspeakably frustrated” that they are not being heard.

“There are countless people throughout the world who are voiceless and suffering because of the climate emergency,” explains Hewes. “Climate science and truth has been muted, and those who suffer are not being heard. Rupert Murdoch did this. He muted climate science as certainly as if he’d sewn up its lips himself.

“‘I’m sewing up my lips to demonstrate the terrible and violent havoc Murdoch’s actions have wreaked upon the world and to symbolically make visible this truth,” he adds.

Christian Climate Action / Zoe Broughton
A priest has sewn his lips together to protest against the lack of climate coverage in Rupert Murdoch's media empire.Christian Climate Action / Zoe Broughton

His aim was to draw attention to Murdoch “suppressing evidence-based, peer-reviewed scientific observation from thousands of pre-eminent scientists across the globe.”

He is pictured holding a placard that reads, ‘Murdoch - the most destructive man in the history of the planet?’

After two hours Hewes ended his protest and removed his stitches.

Who is Rupert Murdoch?

Murdoch is an Australian-born American businessman and owner of hundreds of national and international publishers around the world. In charge of outlets like The Sun and The Times, or Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, the media tycoon sets the editorial tone for much of the global mainstream media.

With a net worth of $22.4 billion (€18.8 billion) as of 2021, Murdoch is the 31st richest person in the United States and the 71st richest in the world.

Murdoch told News Corp shareholders in November 2020 that the company does not deny climate change during a 26-minute virtual AGM.

"We do not deny climate change. We’re not deniers,” he said to the committee.

JASON REED/AFP
Rupert MurdochJASON REED/AFP

But the company continues to face heavy criticism over its lack of environmental reporting across the board, most notably the coverage of Australia’s devastating bushfires last summer. Murdoch’s son, James, famously left the board in July of the same year, allegedly claiming that he was disappointed with the climate denial present in the company.

The media organisation should be put “on trial for their role in the destruction of life on our planet.”
Reverend Tim Hewes

“[Murdoch] has ridiculed and attempted to discredit the warnings of highly regarded humanitarian agencies and eminent ambassadors and activists for the planet,” says Hewes.

Hewes is calling for an acknowledgement and an honest discussion about the catastrophic impact Murdoch and News Corps have had on tackling climate breakdown.

He believes the media organisation should be put “on trial for their role in the destruction of life on our planet.”