Prosecutors respond to collapse of first Balcombe anti-fracking trial

We asked Sussex Police and the Crown Prosecution Service to comment on the collapse of the first trial of a campaigner arrested during protests against Cuadrilla’s exploration at Balcombe.

The case, heard at Brighton Magistrates, ended abruptly on Monday (25/11/13) when District Judge Peter Crabtree questioned whether an offence had been committed. He also questioned whether CPS guidelines on prosecuting people at public protests had been followed.  At that stage, the court had heard from one police witness and watched a four-minute video. The campaigner  denied obstructing the highway outside Cuadrilla’s site on July 27th this year. Following the judge’s comments, the prosecution decided that it would not be in the public interest to pursue the case.

We asked the CPS whether it planned to review cases of other people arrested at the Balcombe demonstrations in the light of the District Judge’s comments. The CPS made the following statement:

“The case was carefully reviewed in line with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and it was deemed in the public interest to prosecute. However, we respect the views of the judge regarding this case.”

We put the same question to Sussex Police.

Chief Superintendent Tony Blaker said: “This was a decision taken by the CPS and we respect their reasons for doing so.”

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