Some 500 protesters were sought to stage an anti-Qatar protest in front of Downing Street today while the Emir of Qatar visits the home of the British prime minister.
The casting agency Extra People, based in the United Kingdom, advertised for protesters to join the demonstrations. Screen grabs of the email were sent to potential acting extras, these were later uploaded on to social media sites to raise awareness of the campaign.
I do movie etc extras work. Just received this from an agency I don't usually work with.
They need a rent a crowd for the President of Qatar at Downing St @guardian @BBCNews @mrjamesob pic.twitter.com/xwd7XtzWzB
— Andy ™🤠🎶🇪🇺 ☠︎ ⚓︎ ♲ (@andywash) July 23, 2018
The casting company later explained that a company called Neptune PR Ltd made contact requesting 500 protesters. This company had only been set up three months ago and registered as a virtual office in London’s Old Street.
“On Monday 23rd July we were contacted by Neptune PR Ltd asking to provide 500 people to stand outside Downing Street to fill a space as part of a crowd the next day,” Extra People said. It claimed a junior member of the team sent out the request without consulting management and it had been “withdrawn” as it was an “error in judgement”.
A screengrab of the person asking to hire people via EP, giving Neptune PR Ltd, as the company details for invoicing. We withdrew our involvement shortly after. Full email chain is with our lawyers. pic.twitter.com/uED32Mzx9u
— Extra People Ltd (@extrapeopleltd) July 24, 2018
“We do not wish to be involved whatsoever with those involved in the project and apologise profusely for a lapse in judgement that meant this enquiry was ever passed on.”
A protest was expected to take place in London between 11:30 and 13:30 today, while a demonstration was held yesterday outside parliament. Placards being raised condemned Qatar for paying a ransom to release 16 members of its royal family who had been kidnapped in Iraq. Social media users said participants in this demonstration had been “bussed in from Birmingham” and paid up to £50 to attend. No details were given as to who is paying the protesters.
Adding to this, across London, a series of anti-Qatar billboards have propped up, including adverts to highlight the country’s treatment of migrant workers.
The Emir of Qatar’s visit to the UK comes more than a year after the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt levied an air, land and sea blockade against Qatar over terrorism and extremism allegations. A list of 13 demands was made in order for the siege to be lifted, including the closure of international news broadcaster Al Jazeera. Qatar, however categorically denies the allegations as baseless saying the states are trying to force regime change in the small Gulf country.
In early 2018, Al Jazeera warned that women were paid to attend an anti-Qatar conference in Germany.