More than 40 people are on trial on charges arising from protests at Barton Moss in Irlam during spring 2014. They have pleaded not guilty and argued that their actions were justified because IGas had acted unlawfully.
A previous hearing of the case in March this year heard evidence that a field next to the Barton Moss site had “dangerous levels of contamination”. But an expert witness said it was not possible to identify the source of the contamination without more tests.
The results of those tests were due to be presented this morning. But a stand-in prosecution barrister, Peter Cadwallader, asked for an adjournment until tomorrow. He said the Crown Prosecution Service had not formally instructed a barrister to present the case today.
District Judge James Prowse refused the delay and said the case would begin at 2pm this afternoon.
He said: “This has been in the diary for months. It was set back in April. It is up to the CPS to sort this out”.
“It is inexcusable”, he said. “This is not acceptable. If this case is adjourned I can see it disappearing into December”.
DJ Prowse, who is due to retire in October, said the issues of the case were already “horrendously stale”.
“The CPS has caused this problem. The CPS will have to make available one of their advocates”.
“There are people [in the CPS] who are dealing with it who are very familiar with the issues”.
Richard Brigden, defending some of the people on trial, questioned “the sense of continuing with the prosecution”.
DJ Prowse said he would “not be particularly sympathetic” if the CPS asked for another delay this afternoon.
The case is due to resume at 2pm.