Police arrest evidence challenged at Caroline Lucas trial

26th March 2014
Caroline Lucas trial: day three – morning evidence

Lawyers for two anti-fracking demonstrators, who were taking part in the same protest as MP Caroline Lucas, this morning challenged police evidence about their arrests.

PC Alan Harris told Brighton Magistrates Court that he first warned Ruth Potts and then Ruth Jarman that force would be used if they did not leave a group sitting in the entrance areas to Cuadrilla’s site at Balcombe. He also said he formally arrested both women and issued full cautions. He said both women were passive when they were arrested. He said that “Miss Jarman went limp and lifeless when we escorted her”.

Tom Wainwright, defending, showed video evidence of police officers removing his client, Miss Potts from the group. He put it to Mr Harris that the video did not show his warning, arrest or caution. PC Harris said the arrest and caution may have happened later. Mr Wainwright suggested that was not likely because PC Harris then moved on to arrest Miss Jarman.

PC Harris was asked to describe the arrest of Miss Jarman. He said he arrested a woman wearing a brown or orange vest top and hair under her arm pits. Owen Greenhall, for Miss Jarman, showed video of Miss Jarman’s arrest. She was seen wearing a green top and did not have hairy armpits. Mr Greenhall suggested to PC Harris that he had bought into the stereotype of an environmental campaigner. The officer denied this.

The court also heard by video link from Chief Inspector Andrew Beard, an officer from the West Midlands. He had worked as bronze commander at the Balcombe protests on August 19th, the day the women were arrested. He described how he used a loud hailer to tell demonstrators to leave the area outside the main gate to Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site. About half an hour later, police protest liaison officers handed out notices telling protesters to move to a designated protest area. When asked how many people moved Chief Inspector Beard said “very very minimal. It was single figures.”

The officer also described instructions he received from the silver commander of the operation, Superintendent Jane Derrick about arresting demonstrators. He said people who had locked themselves together were to be arrested. Other people in the area outside the gate would be escorted to the designated protest area.

Miss Lucas, 53, of Brighton is on trial along with Josef Dobraszczyk, 22, of Bristol, Ruth Potts, 39, of Totnes, Ruth Jarman, 50, of Hook, and and Sheila Menon, 41, of London. They all deny obstructing the highway and failing to comply with a police condition imposed under Section 14 of the Public Order Act on August 19th last year.

The case continues this afternoon.

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