Campaign

Update on Balcombe anti-fracking court cases

8th April 2014

After a batch of recent court cases arising from the protests against Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site at Balcombe, we thought it was worth summarising the outcomes of the legal action so far.

Arrests
126 people were arrested between July 25th and September 30th last year

Of them:
14 people were cautioned
21 people had their cases discontinued by the police before they were charged
1 person was bound over

Charges
90 people were charged with a total of 114 charges

Discontinued charges
Of the people charged, at least 30, facing at least 35 charges, had their cases discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service before the case came to court. More details

Guilty pleas
9 people pleaded guilty to a total of 9 charges
The prosecution dropped a total of 2 charges against 2 people who had pleaded guilty to other charges

Trials
46 people pleaded not guilty and went to trial on a total of 70 charges
26 people have so far been found not guilty on a total of 31 charges
14 people have so far been found guilty on total of 17 charges

Charges withdrawn or dismissed during trials
4 charges involving 3 people were dismissed during trials when the judge ruled there was no case to answer or invited the prosecution to withdraw the charge

Sentences
Of the people who pleaded or were found guilty, the courts imposed:
18 conditional discharges of 12 months each on a total of 16 people
2 conditional discharges of 18 months each on 2 people
1 community order of 40 hours
5 fines each of £200

Adjourned trials
6 people have had their trials adjourned on a total of 11 charges

The adjourned trials include that of the MP Caroline Lucas and fellow campaigners Ruth Potts, Ruth Jarman, Sheila Menon and Josef Dobraszczyk. Their case resumes on April 17th at Brighton Magistrates Court, when Ruth Jarman will give evidence. The case is expected to conclude with a verdict that day.

The other trial involves the Balcombe poet, Simon Welsh, whose case is expected to conclude on May 1st at Eastbourne Magistrates Court.

Awaiting trial
2 people are still awaiting trial on 1 charge each. Their case is due to begin on April 15th

Appeals
Of those found guilty at trial, 2 people are appealing against a total of 3 charges

Sources: Reports of court hearings and freedom of Information requests to Sussex Police and the Crown Prosecution Service

6 replies »

    • Hi. Thanks for your comment. Cuadrilla is applying for planning permission to flow test the well. The application goes before West Sussex County Council on April 29th. best wishes, Ruth

    • Thanks for your comment and the link to your website. In the trial of Caroline Lucas MP and four other anti-fracking campaigners, the district judge ruled that they could not use climate change as a defence of necessity. He said Cuadrilla was too far removed from their argument that fracking would cause climate change. He did, however, find them not guilty on the facts of the case and he also added that the Section 14 order issued by police under the Public Order Act was invalid.

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