70%+ of Balcombe anti-fracking charges acquitted at trial – latest update

25th April 2014

More than 70% of the charges that went to trial following anti-fracking protests outside Cuadrilla’s exploration site in Balcombe have now resulted in acquittals or were dropped during the court case.

With just three charges still to be decided, figures from the Crown Prosecution Service show there have been 45 not guilty verdicts or dismissals. The CPS said there had been 19 charges resulting in guilty verdicts. But it included in this group one charge where the plea was changed to guilty during the case, so we have excluded it from the figures.

The largest number of acquittals were for obstructing the highway and for failing to comply with Section 14 of the Public Order Act. These included the charges made against Caroline Lucas MP, who was acquitted last week (April 17th). The largest number of guilty verdicts were also for obstructing the highway.

The CPS said there had been 11 charges on which people pleaded guilty. Our records show that figure to be nine.

Details of charges at trials

Offences charged Guilty verdicts Not guilty verdicts
s.14 Public Order Act 1986 0 13
Obstruct highway 10 22
Criminal damage 1 0
s.4 Public Order Act 1986 0 1
Assault PC 3 2
Obstruct PC 2 3
s.241 Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992 2 3
s.26 Road Traffic Act 1988 0 1
TOTAL 18 45

Two campaigners are currently appealing against guilty verdicts at their trials. Keyon Bayandor appeared before Lewes Crown Court on 16th April. But his appeal against a conviction for obstructing a police officer was adjourned until 18th July because one of the prosecution witness was ill. Nick Ward is appealing against his convictions for obstructing a police officer and criminal damage and is awaiting a court date.

Final trials
One of the remaining trials is due to end next week. Balcombe poet, Simon Welsh, will hear the verdict in his case on Thursday next week (May 1st) at Eastbourne Magistrates Court. He denies failing to comply with a condition imposed by police under Section 14 of the Public Order Act on September 10th.

The other trial involves Maria Sanders and Beaujolais Bulman, who deny assaulting a police officer on August 19th. Their case was adjourned last week because not enough court time had been allocated. It will now start on September 15th at Brighton Magistrates Court.

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