Sally-Ann Hart’s agent Rob Lee said he rejected Extinction Rebellion’s invitation to Friday’s hustings on her behalf because he was concerned for her safety.
He said he felt ‘secure’ that he had made the right decision after speaking with members of the Hastings and St Leonards branch of Extinction Rebellion.
He added: “It was my decision.”
Mr Lee cited Extinction Rebellion’s plans to target Conservative offices as part of its 12 Days of Christmas protests as a reason for turning down the invite.
However, Extinction Rebellion Hastings and St Leonards said the 12 Days of Christmas events have not yet started and are designed to raise public awareness of the climate crisis.
In a statement issued on Thursday (November 28), the group said: “XR Hastings and St Leonards seek to address inconsistencies in this claim. Namely that during exchanges with Sally-Ann Hart’s campaign manager, Rob Lee, he provided various and inconsistent reasons for her non participation.
“During a telephone call on Nov 19th he cited not being able to guarantee the safety of his candidate and that advice from the police contradicted our commitment to non-violence. He also refused to discuss the provision of any measures to address his concerns.
“When XR followed up with the police they were unaware of any such advice having been given.
“Rob’s current rationale citing the targeting of Conservative offices during the 12 days of Christmas protests as being behind his decision is also muddled. “Earlier in November XR hunger strikers were present at all major political party HQs in an attempt to seek meetings to discuss the Climate and Ecological Crisis. XR’s 12 days of Christmas events have not yet started and are designed to raise public awareness of the Climate Crisis as a matter of urgency for all our politicians to address.
“Extinction Rebellion is non-violent, inclusive and beyond politics, working to sound the alarm and demand action on the Climate Crisis.
“Every attempt by XRHSL was made to have the Conservative candidate attend the hustings, as the people of Hastings & Rye deserve to have all their prospective parliamentary candidates respond on this most important of issues.”