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Woman visiting Extinction Rebellion protester in prison is turned away for not wearing bra

A VIOLIN teacher visiting a fellow Extinction Rebellion protester in a London jail was turned away for not wearing a bra.

Anneka Sutcliffe, 31, from Bristol, tried to visit pal Mark Ovland, 36, who angered commuters when he clambered on top of a Tube at Canning Town in East London last month.

Anneka Sutcliffe (pictured at Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire) said she was turned away from visiting her pal in prison for not wearing a bra The violin teacher is also a member of the Extinction Rebellion campaign group Mark Ovland stood on top of a London Tube at Canning Town last month Footage also showed a commuter chasing Mr Ovland down the Tube at Canning TownCredit: Twitter – captheadboard Mr Ovland, 36, was repeatedly arrested during XR’s October protestsCredit: Facebook

Mr Ovland, from Devon, gave up his full-time Buddhist teacher training studies earlier this year to join the group.

Ms Sutcliffe had tried to visit him today at Thameside Prison in South East London but was turned away at the security checkpoint.

She told the Standard her “breasts have never been so angry”.

She said: “I had carefully read the HMP Thameside website, made sure I had the right paperwork and dressed accordingly wearing no sharp jewellery.

“I got there on time but me and my friend Sally were refused entry at the security checkpoint, where a female guard did the usual airport-style feel-you-up, because she noticed we weren’t wearing bras.”

She added: “I hardly ever wear a bra. To me, a vest top and pants are my underwear, and that’s my business anyway.”

Thameside Prison said all visitors must be “appropriately dressed”, and unless there are medical reasons all women must wear bras for “decency of other visitors” including children.

It also said wearing bras helps detect illicit items and prevents allegations of inappropriate contact by prison staff.


The Extinction Rebellion campaigner had travelled from the West Country to visit Mr Ovland, who faced the wrath of Londoners last month by climbing on to the roof of carriages on a Jubilee Line train at Canning Town.

He was chased down the Tube before being pulled into the crowd by irate commuters.

Leaders of the movement admitted the targeting of the commuters had been “an own goal” following a severe public backlash.

Mr Ovland was repeatedly arrested during the two week action by the campaign group last month.

The protester will go on trial later this year after allegedly gluing himself to a train at Canary Wharf during Extinction Rebellion‘s April demos.


Ms Sutcliffe said she was upset she couldn’t visit her friend.

She added: “I was really looking forward to visiting him.

“It took him a while to get registered as a vegan and he spends his time reading a lot of books and meditating.

“He is trying to counsel his cellmate through drug and alcohol issues and is seeing prison as a real time of servitude – trying to help other prisoners – which is wonderful.

“He didn’t apply for bail as he was fully prepared to go to prison for his actions.

“It highlights the injustice of being in prison for non-violent protest when our government is guilty is ecocide.”

Craig Thomson, Serco’s prison director at the jail, said: “All women are required to wear underwear including a bra when visiting the prison, not just in the interests of other visitors, particularly children, but also to help our staff who are searching for contraband.

“Anyone who is abusive or intimidating towards our staff will be refused entry to the prison.”

The activist said he wanted to create a response where people ‘have to get off the fence’Credit: ExtinctionRebellion / youtube