Stephen Dixon claims 'it's just a tree' in tense Sycamore Gap debate: 'You're being soft!'

The GB News Breakfast panel

The GB News Breakfast panel debated the Sycamore Gap tree felling

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 29/09/2023

- 08:58

Updated: 29/09/2023

- 09:15

A 16-year-old boy has been arrested after a tree was deliberately felled at the iconic landmark

Stephen Dixon and his Breakfast co-star Anne Diamond found themselves with differing opinions when it came to the Sycamore Gap tree felling.

The iconic tree, which featured in several films and stood for centuries, was deliberately felled overnight on Wednesday, sparking outrage among locals and several public figures.

Northumberland police have since confirmed a teenage boy has been arrested and taken into custody which prompted the Breakfast panel to debate what a suitable punishment should be.

Nigel Nelson and Claire Pearsall joined Anne and Stephen to go over the headlines in the newspapers when the Sycamore Gap incident caught their eye.

Kicking off the debate, Stephen said to Nelson: "We'll start with you with something I think we can all agree on... the moronic act, a 300-year-old Sycamore at Hadrian's Wall that has been felled by vandals."

Nelson was almost lost for words before he branded the act as "heartbreaking" and added: "It's someone who wantingly goes around and destroys out heritage."

Anne then weighed in to point out its significance in a number of films and highlighted just how popular and iconic the tree had become.

The tree at Sycamore Gap was felled

The tree at Sycamore Gap was felled on Wednesday night


"You think of the history that that tree has seen," Anne mused as Nelson continued: "You know, it was a real part of Britain.

"And people go round and do that - for what reason?!" Nelson added before Stephen weighed in: "A 16-year-old, Claire, do we need to be a bit more forgiving or should we march him to the nearest police station?"

Pearsall replied: "I think the court of public opinion is going to march him to the nearest police station, but you've got to ask yourself the question of what is a 16-year-old doing roaming around with a chainsaw?"

"That in itself is terrifying, isn't it?" Anne interjected. "It's not as if it was one act of vandalism on the spur of the moment, wrecking a tree...

WATCH NOW: Breakfast's Sycamore Gap debate 

"Somebody went there with a chainsaw deliberately to fell it," Anne continued.

Pearsall then claimed there was one "positive" to come from the incident after a local pub offered a cash reward for anyone who came forward with information as it showed the community pulling together.

After Pearsall concluded her point by saying "everyone is together on this issue", Stephen opted to share his slightly less damning verdict on the culprit.

Anne described it as "indescribable" as Stephen argued: "Well, it's also just one tree, let's keep it in context.

"However, it's 300 years gone," he added before Anne interjected: "It's symbolic, it's symbolic! And it's also symbolic of what are people thinking!"

"I know, I agree" Stephen conceded before adding: "However, he hasn't killed anybody, you've got to keep it some sort of-"

But as he trailed off, Anne cut in to blast: "If you've got the sort of mind that does that, it makes me worry!"

Stephen suggested a suitable punishment would be to put the vandal "on a course or some sort of National Trust training" in order to "appreciate these things a bit more".

Anne and Stephen

Anne and Stephen didn't agree on what should happen to the vandal


But Stephen's suggestion left Anne visibly taken aback as she argued: "I think you're being very soft on whoever it is!"

Stephen attempted to defend himself before Nelson also weighed in to side with Anne by saying: "Stephen, I think you're being very soft on him."

Nelson went on to suggest that if the tree was felled for a joke, the culprit would need "psychological help" which prompted Stephen to stand by his point.

"Oh, please," Stephen interjected. "It's some 16-year-old, I don't think he needs psychological help!"

Pearsall brought the debate to a close by siding somewhat with Stephen as she claimed there was nothing "to be gained by locking up a 16-year-old".

Anne and Nelson weren't alone in there calls for severe punishment to be handed to the vandal.

A number of famous faces from the North East have expressed their outrage at the incident, including architect and Channel 4 presenter George Clarke, and Hairy Bikers star Si King.

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