2nd April 2014
Section 14 trial: Day three – morning evidence
A group of anti-fracking campaigners who took part in a sit down protest near the gate of Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site at Balcombe were not given written notices of where they could legally demonstrate, a court heard today.
Inspector Rachel Carr, a police liaison officer, said she spoke to the group collectively but did not distribute paper notices about a designated protest area, which had been imposed under Section 14 of the Public Order Act.
Inspector Carr was giving evidence at Brighton Magistrates Court at the trial of nine campaigners who were arrested at the Balcombe protest on August 19th last year. They are 52-year-old Phillip Cawkwell, from Ascot, Kim Turner, 56, of Brighton, 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 are charged with obstructing the highway. All but Mr Cawkwell are charged with a breach of Section 14 of the Public Order Act. All deny all the charges.
The court heard that police liaison officers were instructed by Detective Chief Inspector Paul Betts to speak to two groups of campaigners who were sitting in the entrance area of the site. The larger group, near the roadside verge, included the MP Caroline Lucas. The smaller group, nearest to the site gate, included the people on trial. Four had locked their arms into plastic tubes and the others had interlocked arms.
Asked by Jonathan Edwards, prosecuting, whether she spoke to the smaller group, Inspector Carr said: “I believe I did speak to them.” Mr Edwards asked “Did you take any other action.” Inspector Carr said: “No I didn’t.” She added: “It was my understanding that they had been spoken to by another PLO before. This was the final communication.”
Judge William Ashworth asked whether there were fixed notices at the protest about the Section 14 area. Inspector Carr said: “I don’t think there were because there was nothing to attach them to. It was a 60 mph road – there were no street lights.”
Earlier in the trial, Superintendent Jane Derrick said she had asked for notices to be fixed at the protest site and for paper notices to be distributed to demonstrators.
The court also heard from four police constables who were involved in arrests of demonstrators. PC Peter Swash described how he had arrested a man in the entrance, escorted him to the designated protest area and then de-arrested him. Earlier, the trial had heard that Superintendent Derrick had given instructions that demonstrators should be given the opportunity to leave the gateway and walk to the designated protest area where they could continue their protest.
Shahida Begum, for Miss Herriman, Mr Evans and Miss Brown, suggested that the way police treated the demonstrators appeared to be down to chance. Judge William Ashworth asked PC Swash what was different about the man who was de-arrested. PC Swash said the de-arrested man was not involved in a lock-on and he was happy to walk to the designated protest area. But Miss Begum said police video evidence showed that police had carried the de-arrested man to the protest area.
PC Georgina English described how she arrested James Jones, one of the people who had locked his arm into tubes. She said she knelt down and told him she required him to move to the designated area. She said Mr Jones was singing “We shall not be moved” during the conversation. She said “I asked him ‘Is there anything I can say or do for him to comply to my request.’” He continued singing, she said, so she arrested him.
When asked by Owen Greenhall, for Mr Jones, whether there was anything to stop her taking him to the designated area and de-arresting him, PC English said: “No but I would not have done. When I arrest people generally they go to custody.”
PC Louise Dudson described how she told Miss Herriman to move to the protest area and stop obstructing the highway. She said Miss Herriman was shouting and singing. PC Dudson said she arrested Miss Herriman, explained the reason and cautioned her. “She said words in French”, PC Dudson said.
Police protester removal teams had to release the people who were locked-on before Miss Herriman could be removed. PC Dudson said she then used the pressure point technique to force Miss Herriman to release her arms from the people next to her. Asked by Miss Begum if she heard Miss Herriman say “You are hurting”, PC Dudson said “I don’t recall”. Asked if she said: “Let go and then we will stop”, PC Dudson said: “I don’t recall”.
PC Russell Prior said he was instructed by DCI Betts to arrest Miss Brown. He said he explained the reason for the arrest and cautioned her. Later, in the police van he told her again about the offences for which she had been arrested. “I wanted to make sure she was fully aware of what had taken place”, he said. .
Miss Begum put it to him that he didn’t tell Miss Brown that he could escort her to the designated area. “I cannot recall that dialogue”, PC Prior said. Miss Begum put it to him that there was no mention of this in his statement. He replied that had worked more than 12 hours by the time he made his statement and he may have left things out.