15th April 2014
Two anti-fracking campaigners accused of assaulting a police officer at last year’s Balcombe protests had their trial delayed for six months this morning.
Beaujolais Bulman (26), of Lancaster, is charged with assaulting PC Llewellyn on August 19th last year outside Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site. Maria Sanders (25), of London, is charged with assaulting PC Tourell on the same day. Both deny the charges.
Their two-day trial had been scheduled to begin this morning at Brighton Magistrates Court but Deputy District Judge Claire Pithie adjourned it until September 15th.
A key part of case concerns a condition on protests imposed by police under Section 14 of the Public Order Act. The defence will argue that the order was not legal and, as a result, police officers involved in the case were not acting in the lawful execution of their duty.
The legality of the Section 14 order has arisen in two previous cases, including that of the MP Caroline Lucas, but no ruling has yet been made on it. Because of this, the prosecution will have to call the police officer who recommended the order, Superintendent Jane Derrick, and the officer who approved it, Temporary Chief Constable, Giles York. Both gave evidence at a case earlier this month. But a different district judge was allocated to hear that case and the officers will be required to give their evidence again.
Deputy District Judge Pithie decided that with the additional witnesses the case could not be heard in full. She decided not to hear part of the case because Miss Sanders is eight and a half months pregnant.
- A verdict is expected in the trial of Caroline Lucas and four other campaigners on Thursday (April 17th).