THE co-founder of eco-action group Ocean Rebellion has criticised the police for allegedly trying to silence legitimate protest after 15 plain clothes officers raided his home in the run-up to the G7 summit.

Local artist and sculptor Rob Higgs, 46, was not in, when officers from Exeter raided his home at Trevone Quarry near Mabe but his partner Sophie was.

"Suddenly my phone started ringing from all directions with friends and tenants saying there are police everywhere and they are all asking for you," he said. "They also turned up at Ponsharden Boatyard where I used to live had a workshop down there."

He says the raid was part of Operation Servator, which is designed to stop criminal activities and prevent terrorism.

"They searched and found my workshop and my home without a warrant," he claimed. "I wasn't there at the time but they had a chat with my partner and explained they could surprise us at any time.

"The whole thing with Servator is that there is a highly visible and unexpected police presence to thwart criminal activity and terrorism. I'm a theatre prop maker for environmental NGOs, for God's sake!"

Mr Higg's was part of Extinction Rebellion and last year helped form Ocean Rebellion to highlight pollution of the seas. He has created sculptures for Extinction Rebellion including a sinking house on the Thames that sailed under Tower Bridge and made world headlines. Last year Ocean Rebellion targeted The World cruise liner moored in Falmouth Docks.

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He says the police are right that he is going to take part in protests but it will be creative and peaceful.

"To attack the artists for working legally and lawfully is wrong," he said. "We have three police liaison officers but we are very used to intimidation. We are trying to save the oceans as environmental artists and activists.

"If they are overtly stating that they are not intending to silence peaceful protest, then what the hell do you call this?

"They say we are watching you. You might think you are not being watched but we can turn up at any time. We might be a heavy handed group of officers in high vis or just one officer. We might pounce even if we suspect that you might think you might be considering to protest the G7.

"They are opposed to me taking creative action to show that the government is acting in a woeful and inadequate response to a climate emergency."

Rob Higgs co-founded Ocean Rebellion last year

Rob Higgs co-founded Ocean Rebellion last year

Mr Higgs has lived in Cornwall for 20 years. He was a professional sculptor with work at the Eden Project, Kimberley Park in Falmouth, the science museum, Warner Bros and BBC but became disillusioned by the corporate side of his work.

"We are trying to point out the utter failure of government and corporations to acknowledge the severity of the climate crisis" he said.

He says he has taken up the matter with the Cabinet office and is making a complaint to the police of "heavy-handed and intimidating" policing.

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World leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the USA and the EU will visit Cornwall from June 11 to 13 when they join Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the UK's turn to host the G7 summit.

They will also be joined by the leaders of Australia, India and South Korea, who will attend as guests.

Among them will be American President Joe Biden, attending one of his first big international conferences on the world stage.

Devon and Cornwall Police said they would not comment. The Home Office has also been contacted for a comment but has not yet replied.