UWE student charged after allegedly defacing Bristol Uni building during Just Stop Oil protest

Ben Meehan, 21, has been charged with criminal damage

A student has been charged after allegedly defacing a Bristol University building with orange paint earlier this week.

Ben James Meehan, a 21-year-old film student at the University of the West of England (UWE), has been charged with criminal damage after allegedly spraying orange paint on the University of Bristol’s Queen’s Building on Monday October 9th.

The protest was done in support of the Just Stop Oil movement, with Meehan claiming that he was targeting the university’s engineering building specifically to call out their association with corporations that they deem to be accelerating the climate crisis.

Meehan began to paint the building orange with a fire extinguisher at approximately 11.45am and security services arrived within minutes, according to eyewitnesses.

Police were reportedly on the scene about half an hour later and arrested Meehan immediately.

Ben Meehan being carried away by police at the scene of the protest (image via Joe Pinner)

Avon and Somerset Police said: “Ben James Meehan, 21, of Alma Vale Road, Clifton, has been charged with criminal damage and released on bail pending an appearance at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on 5 December.

“The charge follows an incident in which paint was thrown at the University of Bristol’s Queen’s Building on Monday 09 October.”

With Just Stop Oil currently leading a recruitment charge amongst students and planning mass protests in London this November, it is unlikely that Meehan will be the last Bristol student to face criminal charges in support of the group.

On the day of the incident, a University of Bristol spokesperson said: “The University of Bristol plays a key role in tackling environmental change through its research, its teaching and how it operates.

“We know how important this is, not just to our staff and students, but to the whole world, which is why sustainability remains one of the central strands shaping the University’s vision of the future.

“We were the first university in the UK to declare a climate emergency in 2019, reaffirming our strong and positive commitment to take action on climate change and, a year later, in 2020 we completely divested from all investments in fossil fuel companies.

“All our partnerships undergo stringent due diligence checks and ethical review first, ensuring the University is using its expertise to influence positive change. We continue to actively engage with our major suppliers, including banks, to see where positive improvements and changes can be made.

“We respect our staff and students’ right to raise concerns about issues they feel strongly about in a lawful way and we will continue to listen to and engage with their views, however, we ask that these are discussed with us directly and through appropriate channels.”

When asked whether Meehan would face any internal disciplinary action UWE declined to comment.

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