Nine anti-fracking campaigners have been found cleared of obstruction following protests outside the Horse Hill exploration site near Gatwick Airport.
District judge William Ashworth, sitting at South East Surrey Magistrates Court in Redhill, said he accepted that local drivers would have been delayed by the protests but he said:
“I cannot say that I am sure that you went too far”
The verdicts were met with applause, cheers and shouts of “You’re a good man.”
The charges relate to protests outside the Horse Hill exploratory drilling site during flow testing in February and March 2016.
Isabelle Bish, Thomas Burke, Paddy Horne, Stephen Jackson, Neil Lamony, David Powter, Daniel Nye, George Stubbs and another man all denied obstructing the highway during protests to slow down lorries arriving at the site or leaving.
DrillOrDrop has chosen not to identify the ninth defendant after he said he had received personal physical threats from people who he said called themselves investors in one of the Horse Hill companies.
During a week-long trial, the prosecution argued that the protests caused delays to road users and were therefore unreasonable and unlawful.
But the defence teams argued the protests were proportionate and did not break the law. They pointed to evidence that police commanders gave inconsistent guidance on what level of protest would be tolerated. They also said police officers were inconsistent in the way they applied a five-step warning system before protesters were arrested.
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