A County Durham MP has hit out at protestors for 'targeting' the cenotaph in London, while the protest group have denied that the monument was its target. 

Paul Howell, MP for Sedgefield, was part of a  stream of politicians including Tory party deputy chairman Lee Anderson and London mayor Sadiq Khan that accused Just Stop Oil of targeting the war memorial on Monday (November 6).

But activists said they had been moved to the base of the monument after shutting down traffic on Whitehall, an account supported by an officer at the scene.

The Northern Echo: The picture that Paul Howell MP posted on social media on Monday (November 6)The picture that Paul Howell MP posted on social media on Monday (November 6) (Image: PAUL HOWELL MP)

Mr Howell was down in London on Monday when he posted to his social media page: "Very sad to see Just Stop Oil appears to have targeted the Cenotaph today.

"Our war heroes fought and died so that we can live in freedom. Where is the respect for the fallen and their families at this time?

"I know the people of Sedgefield will join me in condemning their actions in the strongest possible terms."

Despite Mr Howell's post, accounts of the protest differed between Just Stop Oil and those condemning the protestors.

A mother-of-one lying cuffed on the base of the memorial told the PA news agency: “They arrested us in the road and we were dragged to the pavement and then back over here.”

One officer told PA the protesters had been moved to the site “to get them off the road”, adding: “It was for their own safety, obviously it’s quite a busy road.”

The Northern Echo: The Just Stop Oil protest group on Monday (November 6)The Just Stop Oil protest group on Monday (November 6) (Image: PA MEDIA)

Scotland Yard later said 100 arrests were made under new powers in the Public Order Act, but made clear “there were no offences linked to the Cenotaph” and no protesters glued themselves to the road.

Alongside Mr Howell, Mr Khan, the Labour mayor of the capital, said online that the Metropolitan Police had his “full support in taking action” after the JSO protest.

“Targeting the Cenotaph is completely unacceptable and deeply disrespectful towards those who gave their lives for our country,” he wrote.

The Northern Echo: Just Stop Oil protestors are arrested by police in LondonJust Stop Oil protestors are arrested by police in London (Image: PA MEDIA)

“Tackling climate change is a vital cause but this isn’t the way to go about it.”

The tweet was later removed, with a spokeswoman for the mayor saying it had been deleted after he received further details from the Met.

She added that they were “very happy to clarify that, contrary to initial reports, the Cenotaph was not being targeted”.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper also removed a tweet saying that “targeting the Cenotaph is totally unacceptable”.

The Northern Echo: A protestor is bundled into the back of a police car in LondonA protestor is bundled into the back of a police car in London (Image: Lucy North/PA Wire)

Just Stop Oil have also accused MP Lee Anderson of “tweeting lies about protesters being glued to the Cenotaph”.

“The reality is that they were dragged off the road and arrested by police for protesting in the street, under legislation his corrupt party introduced,” the group said.

JSO demanded an apology from Ms Cooper, adding: “These are peaceful protesters marching towards Parliament Square, arrested under anti-protest laws and dragged off the road. Why won’t you speak out about that?”

The action from the climate activists came ahead of a protest in support of the Palestinian people during the war with Israel, coinciding with Armistice Day.

A JSO spokesman said: “We have not targeted the Cenotaph. The police moved people there when they were being arrested.”

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Earlier in the day, two of the group’s protesters were arrested for smashing glass covering a painting on display at the National Gallery in London.

They used safety hammers to break the glass protecting Diego Velazquez’s Rokeby Venus from the 1960s.

The piece was slashed by suffragette Mary Richardson in 1914.

The Met said activists had been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.