The case against an anti-fracking protester arrested during demonstrations outside the Horse Hill exploratory oil site near Gatwick Airport was dropped this afternoon.
The Crown Prosecution Service said it was offering no evidence against Kieran Dunne, one of ten people on trial at Guildford Magistrates Court on charges arising from protests earlier this year.
Mr Dunne had denied the charge against him and his case was dismissed.
The court also began to hear the charges against nine other Horse Hill protesters. The cases all date back to February and March 2016, when flow testing was taking place at the site near Horley.
Isabella Bish, Thomas Burke, Paddy Horne, Stephen Jackson, Neil Lamony, David Powter, Daniel Nye andGeorge Stubbs all deny obstructing the highway during protests to slow down lorries arriving and leaving the site.
A ninth protester also denies obstructing the highway. DrillOrDrop has decided not to name him after he said identification put his physical wellbeing at risk. He said this was because he had received personal physical threats, reported to Surrey Police, from people who described themselves as investors in Horse Hill.
Jonathan Edwards, prosecuting, said officers from Surrey Police had used a five-step warning process before making arrests. The protesters argued that either the warnings were not given, an obstruction was not caused or the obstruction was justified because of their right to assembly and freedom of expression.
PC Simon Ramsay, of Surrey Police, told the court he had used the five-step warning process before arresting Isabelle Bish on 16 February 2016. He said she had walked in front of a lorry leaving the site. After her arrest, he said:
“She was not happy about it. She shouted about being pregnant. There was a lot of shouting about law suits and unlawful arrests.”
Video shown to the court did not record Ramsay giving the five-step warnings. But he said he had seen footage which did show him using the process with Miss Bish.
District Judge William Ashworth said:
“It might have helped the prosecution if you had shown that footage”.
Laura Collier, defending, put it to PC Ramsay that Miss Bish was walking at normal pace.
PC Ramsay replied “What is normal pace?”
Ms Collier, referring to the video, said “Don’t you consider that is normal pace?”
PC Ramsay said: “I suppose so”.
The court also heard from another Surrey officer, PC Tate, who said he used the five-step warning before he arrested George Stubbs. He had taken part in a protest later that day involving another lorry, PC Tate said.
He said at stage five, Mr Stubbs “jumped off the road” and the lorry went past. But then, PC Tate said, Mr Stubbs ran down the road and jumped in front of the lorry again.
The officer said he later arrested Mr Stubbs at a protest camp established away from the site entrance.
The trial continues tomorrow (Tuesday 14 June 2016) but transfers to South East Surrey Magistrates Court in Redhill.
Also today, charity fundraiser James Randle admitted obstructing the highway during a slow walk protest outside Horse Hill on 25 February 2016. He was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs totalling £165.
The case against Patrick Woolman, another protester at Horse Hill, has been adjourned because he is ill. He denies obstructing the highway.
Updated on 14/6/2016 to include paragraph 6.
DrillOrDrop always welcomes comments on posts. In order to keep the comments area safe and legal, DrillOrDrop has a new commenting policy which you can read here.