A High Court judge granted a bankruptcy order this morning against Ian Crane, a prominent anti-fracking campaigner, after a request by lawyers for Rathlin Energy.
The case brings to an end a long-running legal dispute between the company and Mr Crane, a broadcaster and former oil executive.
It dates back almost two years to July 2014 when Rathlin Energy sought permission to evict a protest camp outside its oil exploration site at Crawberry Hill in East Yorkshire.
Mr Crane and three other people asked for an adjournment of the hearing in the High Court in London. They also asked for the case to be transferred to Hull so that local people could attend. The judge refused their request and granted a possession order to Rathlin Energy.
The company then sought to recover costs from Mr Crane, amounting to £34,000 plus interest and additional legal fees. Last week, a separate judge refused Mr Crane’s application to set aside the default costs certificate which detailed the sum claimed by Rathlin. He also awarded further costs of £7,000 against Mr Crane. DrillOrDrop report
Today, deputy registrar Stephen Lawson made a bankruptcy order at 11.19am. He refused Mr Crane’s request for a further adjournment so that he could challenge the original ruling in the eviction case.
Mr Crane alleged in court that the original decision on the eviction had been based on what he said was inaccurate and misleading information in witness statements by Rathlin’s chairman, David Montagu-Smith, and the landowner, Philip Ellerington.
He said he had submitted an application to set aside the eviction judgement. He wished to examine the statements of both men before a judge and call them to give evidence, he told the court.
Mr Crane, who presents the weekly web-based programme Fracking Nightmare, said an order for bankruptcy against him would be unjust.
“It is my opinion that the whole process here is an abuse of process.”
“Rathlin have made a point of targeting myself as one of the four named defendants. The reason for that is very clear. I have a very vocal critic of Rathlin Energy. I have highlighted many of the problems they have caused in East Yorkshire.”
He said the company was seeking to “limit and restrict” his activities by making him bankrupt.
Tom Shepherd, barrister for Rathlin Energy, told the court:
“The reality is that any appeal [against the original ruling] would have no prospect of success and is woefully late”.
Deputy registrar Lawson said he had to take account of the original judgement and the refusal of the application to set aside the default costs certificate.
“In the circumstances, the only order I can make is to refuse an adjournment and to make a bankruptcy order.”
After the hearing, Mr Crane said:
“It is an inconvenience rather than a catastrophe. I do not have any property or any assets so there is nothing to shut down.”
We asked Rathlin Energy for a reaction and whether it would be pursuing the other named defendants for costs. A spokesperson said the company did not want to comment on the case.
DrillOrDrop reports on the bankruptcy case
Gas company seeks to bankrupt anti-fracking campaigner 23 December 2015
Bid to bankrupt anti-fracking campaigner delayed again 20 January 2016