The leader of Harrow Council refused to condemn the recent protests by Extinction Rebellion, despite their impact on local police resources.

Cllr Graham Henson defended the environment activists’ right to protest and said they were successful in highlighting concerns around climate change.

“I support the judiciary in that people have the right to protest and it is a long-standing and vital foundation of our democracy,” he said.

“I am also of the view that the Government is moving way too slowly – if at all – in trying to address the environmental challenges ahead.”

But Cllr Paul Osborn, leader of Harrow Conservatives, pointed out that the protests caused “significant disruption” across London.

He added that managing the protests had cost the taxpayer £21 million, while additional police resources were drafted in from other areas.

“Harrow’s police are being taken away from Harrow to deal with these things, money that could be spent on dealing with crime and disorder in this borough,” he said.

Cllr Henson pointed out that the police’s biggest concern lies with underfunding as he criticised recent Government cuts to the service.

He added that he did not agree “some of the actions” of the protestors but reiterated his defence of their right to protest and the need to highlight the “state of the environment”.

Extinction Rebellion groups across the world carried out a series of protests over two weeks last month to urge governments to take “urgent action” on climate change.