24th February 2014
Anti-fracking campaigner, Natalie Hynde told a court this morning she wanted to create a media spectacle to raise public awareness about fracking. She said she believed the media would pay attention to her because of her famous parents, the singers, Chrissie Hynde and Ray Davies.
Miss Hynde described how she superglued herself to Simon Medhurst, another environmental campaigner, to form a human padlock at Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site at Balcombe. “I thought it would look like a peaceful protest with our hands around the gate. It was symbolic of the lock the gate protest that had been successful in Australia.”
Miss Hynde, 31, of St Leonards-on-Sea, was giving evidence on the fourth day of her trial at Brighton Magistrates Court. She and Mr Medhurst deny a charge under section 241 of the Trades Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act of besetting Cuadrilla employees, suppliers and contractors on July 31st last year.
The court heard how Miss Hynde had been at the Balcombe protest for a week and had previously given interviews to the Daily Mail, Evening Standard and Al Jazeera. On the day she and Mr Medhurst locked themselves to the gate, there were a lot of photographers at the site. “The media is the life blood of any campaign”, she said. “It was not enough to just hold a placard. That people are prepared to put themselves in front of something that has been taken away from them is much more powerful.”
Miss Hynde said she had not intended to obstruct the work of Cuadrilla. She said she was aware of two other entrances to the site that people could use to get in and out. “The purpose was to create an image in the media that would be symbolic of the lock the gate protest. People do not have the information and that is against their human rights because they risk being harmed by fracking.”
She said she hoped the police would use solvent to dissolve the glue. But she said: “I was prepared for being pulled apart by the police because I had witnessed some police brutality that week which I was quite frightened by.”
The court also heard from Mr Medhurst, a veteran of environmental campaigns against the Newbury bypass and the Hastings to Bexhill link road. Mr Medhurst, 55, of Hastings, was filmed after the incident by police saying “Great result. The two of us managed to delay Cuadrilla for about two hours”. He said the intention had been to raise publicity. He said “I knew we would get a lot of media coverage. That morning I had been giving interviews to BBC Breakfast. I knew that Sky was there and ITV.”
He denied he had tried to compel Cuadrilla employees by blocking the entrance. He said he had filmed the landowner using an alternative access route into the site alongside the main entrance so he was confident emergency vehicles could enter the site if needed.
Also on trial with Miss Hynde and Mr Medhurst is Nichola Sanger, 44, of Hurstpierpoint, who is accused on 3rd September of besetting Cuadrilla staff, contractors and suppliers under the Trades Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act. She denies the charge.
Robert Basto, 66, of Reigate, is accused on 2nd September last year of obstructing PC Mark Morgan and obstructing the highway. He denies the offences. Two charges of getting on to an articulated lorry in motion, and an offence under the trades union legislation were dropped when the district judge, William Ashworth, ruled there was no case to answer.
Jamie Spiers, 29 of no fixed address, is accused on 5th September of obstructing the highway. He denies the offence. A charge under trades union legislation was also dismissed because the judge ruled there was no case to answer.