1st April 2014
Section 14 trial: Day two – afternoon evidence
A police officer on duty at the Balcombe anti-fracking demonstrations described this afternoon how he used the pressure point technique on a campaigner taking part in a sit-down protest.
PC Stuart Bell was giving evidence at the trial of nine campaigners who were arrested outside Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site on August 19th, the same day as the MP Caroline Lucas. It is alleged that the nine sat next to the site gate and refused to move when asked by police. Four had locked their arms together through plastic tubes to create a square shape. The other five linked arms.
PC Bell told Brighton Magistrates Court he arrested 52-year-old Phillip Cawkwell, from Ascot, when he refused to leave the area. The officer said Mr Cawkwell had linked arms with two women. “I used the pressure point to the neck, just below the jawline and he released.” PC Bell said Mr Cawkwell had to be carried to the police van.
Cross-examined by Owen Greenhall, for Mr Cawkwell, PC Bell said he used the minimum force. Mr Greenhall put it to PC Bell that Mr Cawkwell was linked to one, not both women, and that his other hand was holding his bag. PC Bell said: “I believed that at the time he was linked to both women.”
Mr Greenhall said there was nothing to stop the officer moving Mr Cawkwell to an area of road and verge beside the site entrance which had been designated as a protest area under Section 14 of the Pubic Order Act. PC Bell said: “He was under arrest. My instruction was to take him to the van.” The officer accepted that it was “technically possible for him to de-arrest” Mr Cawkwell. That would, he said, be “my discretion”.
The court also heard from PC Roger Penrose, who arrested another member of the group, 56-year-old Kim Turner, of Brighton. PC Penrose acknowledged that for part of the afternoon his attention was on another sit-down protest involving Caroline Lucas. He accepted that at that time he had his back to Miss Turner and Mr Cawkwell’s group.
He described how later he was instructed to remove the group next to the gate. He said he took hold of Miss Turner’s arm and told her he needed her to move to the designated protest area. He said he twice warned Miss Turner that she could be arrested if she refused to move. “I felt I had done everything I could do”, he said. “I arrested and cautioned her.”
Cross-examined by Tom Wainwright, for Miss Turner, PC Penrose said police protest liaison officers handed out notices about the Section 14 protest area to demonstrators and directed them to it. “That didn’t happen”, Mr Wainwright said. “That is what I recall”, PC Penrose replied. He later suggested that notices might have been put in the laps of demonstrators who had linked arms.
Mr Wainwright put it to him: “At the police van she was asking what she had been arrested for”. “Yes”, said PC Penrose. “She said she didn’t know what Section 14 was”, Mr Wainwright said. “Yes”, replied PC Penrose.
District Judge William Ashworth asked the officer “Is one possibility that you have a very firm memory of seeing Caroline Lucas having notices in her group but your memory is not necessarily as firm for the other group.” PC Penrose said: “It is possible” but he added: “My memory is that notices were handed out to the group behind me”.
The other witness this afternoon was Detective Chief Inspector Paul Betts. He told the court that he deployed the protest liaison officers to distribute the notices about the designated area but he said he did not specifically see notices given to the group containing Miss Turner and Mr Cawkwell.
DCI Betts said he took part in a conference call at 2.10pm with the operation’s silver commander, Superintendent Jane Derrick. He said the call confirmed that protesters should be given an opportunity to leave the gateway and go to the designated area. For those that refused, individual officers would have the discretion to arrest them for obstructing the highway and breach of the Section 14 order.
Mr Cawkwell is charged with obstructing the highway. Miss Turner is charged with obstructing the highway and failing to comply with a police condition under the Public Order Act, along with Katie Brown, 34, Luke Evans, 34, and James Jones, 19, all from Liverpool, Camille Herreman, 26, and Matthew Whitney, 30, both of Nottingham, Chris Seal, 30, of London and Barry Slipper, 47, of Hythe. All the campaigners deny all the charges.
The case continues tomorrow.
Evidence from day two – morning