Prominent anti-fracking campaigner, Tina Rothery, refused this morning to pay legal fees amounting to more than £55,000 in a dispute with the shale gas company, Cuadrilla.
Speaking outside Blackpool Law Courts, Ms Rothery said
“I will not pay, even if I could, now or ever. This is my line in the sand.”
Ms Rothery had been ordered to attend a session with court officials to provide information about her finances. Afterwards she told a crowd of about 150 supporters from across the UK that the court process was unjust and she refused to engage with it.
Cuadrilla said it would be considering its next step. (See the end of this post for the company’s full statement).
The claim against Ms Rothery dates back to a hearing in the High Court in Manchester nearly two years ago.
In August 2014, Cuadrilla took legal action to evict anti-fracking campaigners camping in a field near a site at Little Plumpton where it had applied for permission to frack.
Cuadrilla argued that the occupation had caused disruption and distress to the farmer’s family and his business.
The company also sought an injunction on behalf of a group of landowners to prevent members of national and local anti-fracking groups from entering land throughout the Fylde.
Ms Rothery asked for an adjournment to allow campaigners to challenge the injunction. At the next hearing, when the injunction was granted unopposed, part of Cuadrilla’s legal costs were awarded against her as the only named defendant. Since then, interest has been added at 8%. The current total is £55,342.37. DrillOrDrop report on the background to the case.
“I am Tina Rothery”
In the run-up to today’s case, supporters mounted a campaign on social media #I am Tina Rothery, inspired by the Spartacus story. This morning they arrived wearing Tina Rothery masks. Some joined Ms Rothery in wearing yellow aprons, the unofficial uniform of the Lancashire nanas anti-fracking group.
Outside the court, she said:
“This is not about me. This is about us being united.”
She likened her situation to calling on a childhood friend to face the school bully.
“Look what you did. You turned up.
“You achieved today what I could not achieve alone: strength, solidarity and unity.”
She said the legal system was being abused. Referring to the court, she said:
“These places are supposed to seek genuine justice.
“This is unjust: £55,000 for camping in a field, doing no damage and exercising a right to protest peacefully.”
Ms Rothery said instead of providing financial information to the court, she had made this statement to the official:
“With respect to the District Judge and the courts I have huge admiration for a system of justice that is fair but I feel in this case that our law courts are not being used to seek justice but instead being applied like a weapon and a threat against peaceful protest.
“The fact that Cuadrilla has the finances, power and vindictiveness to pursue this through our courts is an abuse of one of the most valued aspects of our democracy.
“So please accept my apologies if this seems rude but as this case has nothing to do whatsoever with justice, I will not be complying with any requests for information or payment.”
To cheers from supporters, she concluded:
“I make this statement on behalf of myself and an entire movement who will not be bullied.”
Bailiff in a stab vest
Ms Rothery said she had been pursued for the costs across Yorkshire in May by a bailiff in a stab vest..
“I am just a regular citizen. I didn’t do anything dangerous but I am being treated like a criminal.”
Ms Rothery said if Cuadrilla chose to pursue her then a date would be set for her case to go before a judge. She added:
“I brought a few mates this time. If they chose to take it to the next step, you wait until next time.”
A spokesperson for Cuadrilla said today:
“Today Ms Rothery was asked to provide information to a Court Officer on her financial means. This is because she has failed to comply with an Order the Court made against her in October 2014 to pay costs as a result of trespass on private farmland in August 2014.
“Ms Rothery asked to be a named defendant in the original trespass case and was informed by the Court at the time that, as a result, an order for costs could be made against her.
“Whilst we respect the right of legal, peaceful protest, in this instance the Lancashire farmers were subjected to this trespass by hundreds of trespassers over a prolonged period.
“They will now consider next steps. Cuadrilla is fully supporting the local farmers in this”.
Updated 25/6/2016 with exact wording of Ms Rothery’s statement to the court official
Who is trying to make a point. Tina and the anti-frackers yes by occupying a field. The occupation was peaceful and the field was cleared and there was no eviction. The farmer isn’t bringing a case. Cuadrilla wants to frighten people away from direct action but it is the only way for people to protect their environment, The action is done from love and for the future generation. There is no gain for the people taking part just the opposite. They have looked into Pandora’s box and seen what is there and will do anything they can (peacefully) to close that lid. They can’t stop they have seen the dangers and are fighting for the future of their families. Cuadrilla are acting as bullies and trying to make an example of her . They have nobody’s interests at heart other than their own. Taking a sledgehammer to squash a fly. In this case a butterfly 🙂 She is so honest and open and full of love and strong with it. Right/wrong – justice – how is it served?
So, Cuadrilla believe they are justified in claiming £55,000 plus for the civil offence of trespass.Have Cuadrilla any concern for the local 74 year old couple I met outside court today? They had to sell their home and lost £50,000 on the sale just because of the threat of fracking nearby. Will Cuadrilla be compensating this couple?
That’s just one example of the damage the frackers are already causing to say nothing of the fear and stress communities are having to endure.
And don’t say their fear is caused by scaremongering. These communities have been living with this threat for the last five years and we are well aware of the detrimental effects caused wherever fracking has taken place. No amount of ‘robust, gold standard regulations’ can prevent human error or workers being made to cut corners by greedy corporations. And all the regulations in the world can’t control nature.
One thing is certain, when fracking goes wrong and it always does, it will cost far far more than £50,000 to put right. That’s even assuming it could be put right. And you can be sure Cuadrilla and their kind will be nowhere to be seen when that happens.
BTW I have yet to find one community or one family that can say hand on heart they have no regrets living in a fracking zone……..
I see the Fylde voted 57% Brexit vs 43% Remain today. Blackpool 67.5% to leave. It is clear that remaining in the EU would have been better to oppose shale gas and fracking with many EU countries bringing in bans / delays moratoriums. And the EU imposing additional oil and gas regulations which are having a big impact on our offshore industry but which are no doubt supported by Greenpeace, FOE and anti carbon entities. So have the majority spoken for the Fylde? Or are there more important issues for local residents than Cuadrilla’s program?
Cameron was all out for fracking, now he has been forced to resign. Maybe part of brexit was that people have had enough of being bullied by a government who want to sacrifice the desolate North. They have certainly had enough of dodgy bureaucrats in Brussels selling favours to lobbyists. See the announcement of fracking in Germany and the cooption of the fracking group in the EU that activists gave up on. The EU bureaucracy was untrustworthy. How can anyone see brexit as a vindication of this government and its insane policy on fracking who campaigned so hard for remain? This was a clear message to the current government that we as a country have had enough of lies , fear and bullying.
I think the Brexit vote is really more a sign people are fed up with nameless faces telling us we must suffer for the greater good be that in the EU or here in the UK.
Many will call the race card. But this is a consequence of poverty. In times of plenty we are always much more tolerant and welcoming. Problem is we need to focus on Westminster as that is what really needs our wrath.
“This is unjust: £55,000 for camping in a field, doing no damage and exercising a right to protest peacefully.”
Its not for that is it? Its to cover the costs. I could camp in someone’s back Garden and do no damage at all but they have to prosecute me to get rid of me. Just before it goes to court I can clear off and say that I didn’t do any damage at all, but they’ve still been to see a solicitor and incurred costs because of it.
Look, if you commit a crime and lose in court there are repercussions. Just asking your mates if they agree and having them turn up at court is something anyone can do – that lots do do. Many people have their friends and family with them in court when they are found guilty.
The original case was against unnamed persons – basically against the anti fracking community itself, and the judge even said that the anti fracking community should raise the money from within itself. They don’t need to do that and can just leave her to it on her own, but as a ‘community’ it falls on them.
There was no need for any costs in the first place.
Total transparency from the start.
Everyone was made aware it was short term. The reason for being their.
The police were there every day in dialogue. All above board.
This is 100% a warning shot made by a company that has the money to pull the strings. Bully tactics. They have nothing to lose. They have no social licence anyway.
Money enough to stand for Green Party in Tatton against Osbourne? Time enough for occupy London, Reclaim the Power? And no doubt lots of other protests. Break the law, pay the fine. Get your “friends” to chip in or get the Green Party, Greenpeace or others who are tweeting support to pay.
Yep. I don’t see any problem with that. Its easy to protest something without breaking the law, but these groups egg each other on. They know when they are breaking the law, but they start shouting that the law shouldn’t apply to them. I can occupy my neighbours back garden and cause no damage, but they can still occur costs in trying to remove me, even if I decide to jump ship before the bailiffs appear. Tina knew she was trespassing; as did they all. They chose to do it anyway.
I thought the cost was for the legal fee proceeding when the defendant decided to challenge the charge of trespassing which all the protesters involved knew they were committing.
Paul you’re missing the point.
The point really is a no-brainer danielsjulie.
Ms.Rothrey and others broke the law, how much more simple do you need it explained?
Squatted un-invited, without approval all ratified by a legal unbiased court of law decision.
“Everyone was made aware it was short term”, did it ever occur to the brainiacs who organised this trespass that it may have been prudent, and a good idea to get the landowners approval beforehand.
Bully tactics you claim. By whom? I would think trespassing and then setting up a playground for adults without any consultation and approval could very much be construed as bullying don’t you?
BTW you claim you have yet to speak to, or find a family that can say they are happy living in an area where fracking is to take place, you obviously haven’t spoken to Malcolm. He claims he lives within 600m from a zone and he is delighted.
This is shows how much support the anti fracking Green Party candidate Tina Rothery got at the last election. Less than 4% of the vote. Wheras Osborne got 59% of the vote (pro fracking). Surely a mistake if the majority oppose fracking??
Paul are you new to the subject of fracking?
Fracking has nothing to do with voting for George Osborne or Tina Rothery. It’s not politics.
i think paul is new to the idea of thinking, never mind fracking. his logic seems a little wayward if he thinks a green party member has any chance in an election against a tory, especially in a safe tory seat and the vote was not about fracking but about electing some douche into westminster
You cannot be serious danielsjulie.
Of course it’s about politics.
It’s about the political platform any politician or potential politician takes with them when seeking election. And I’m sure Ms. Rothery would have used the scaremongering strategy surrounding fracking when she put her name up.
The pretext of justice cloaked in the garb of righteousness effected by Cuadrilla’s court action against Tina Rothery amounts to government sponsored victimisation against a defenceless individual who has committed a minor civil misdemeanour. It is made all the more abhorrent because Cuadrilla’s actions are nothing short of the state-sponsored devastation of our beautiful countryside initiated by a government acting in a peremptory way against its electorate’s inalienable right to clean water, air, and the avoidance of the catastrophic toxic chemicals that hydraulic fracking entails. Enough of their sophistry about the benefits of hydraulic fracking and intimidation of geological experts such as Professor David Smythe, who has been denied his research papers concerning fracking by Glasgow University.
The insignificance of Tina’s trespass compared to the fraud committed by our banksters’ colossal crimes against us all carries a fine of £55,000 or 2 week’s imprisonment yet all the banksters remain free of any charges. The present state of British government suggests the direction of travel is heading remorselessly towards tyranny.