Four Greenpeace activists have pleaded not guilty to causing criminal damage to the roof of the Prime Minister’s constituency home during an anti-oil protest last year.

Amy Rugg-Easey, 33, Alexandra Wilson, 32, and Michael Grant, 64, appeared at York Magistrates’ Court over the demonstration which saw banners draped over Rishi Sunak’s house in Kirby Sigston, near Northallerton, on August 3.

A fourth protester, Mathieu Soete, 38, appeared via videolink for the hearing on Thursday.

The four defendants denied the charge of damaging roof slates to a value of less than £5,000 belonging to Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty.

District Judge Adrian Lower set a date of July 23 for the start of the two-day trial.

The four defendants were granted bail with the condition not to enter the parish of Kirby Sigston.

At the time of the protest, Greenpeace said that no damage was caused to the property and they had chosen to carry it out when the Prime Minister and his family were on holiday in California.

After the charging decision was announced, Greenpeace UK political campaigner, Ami McCarthy, said: “After being under investigation for six months, our activists have now been charged with criminal damage for holding a completely peaceful protest.

“We look forward to disputing the charges and the insufficient grounds on which they are based.

“The protest took place at one of Sunak’s several houses, and great care was taken to make sure it was staged while the family were holidaying in California and, therefore, not even in the country.

“This was a fact that had been widely reported in the news in the run-up to the protest.”