Legal

Photographer appeals against conviction for obstruction at anti-fracking protest

ManchesterMC

A photo-journalist who spent about five minutes at an anti-fracking protest in Bolton is to appeal against a conviction for obstructing the highway.

Peter Yankowski Walker, from Oldham, said he was arrested after taking photographs of a lorry which was the subject of a slow-walking protest in Bolton.

He estimated that he was in front of the lorry for about three seconds and did not intend to stop it moving.

But he was found guilty today at Manchester Magistrates Court after district judge Paul Carr said police video evidence was “quite compelling”.

Outside the court, Mr Yankowski Walker, who has a masters degree in international photo journalism, said he was “shell-shocked” by the verdict.

“I have opinions on fracking but at that time I was being a journalist”.

The court heard he had no criminal record. But Mr Yankowski Walker told DrillOrDrop the police had presented to preliminary hearings of his case the record of someone else, who had been in prison and had convictions for assaulting a police officer and driving offences.

Mr Yankowski Walker said he had been held in custody for 11 hours and was not offered a caution because the police thought he had criminal convictions.

The court saw police video footage which showed Mr Yankowski Walker’s arrest at about 11am on 8 February 2017. This was about five minutes after the photographer arrived at the protest near the depot belonging to A E Yates. The company is the main construction contractor at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road near Blackpool and has been the focus of multiple protests.

Vincent Yip, prosecuting, said for the previous two hours a group of anti-fracking protesters had “slow-walked” a large articulated lorry from the depot through an industrial estate and on to a main road at De Haviland Way. There, the police had decided it was no longer safe for the protest to continue and the lorry was stationary.

Sergeant Alex Metcalfe, the officer in charge, told the court he gave instructions to the protesters that they should leave the road. He said he initially thought Mr Yankowski Walker could have been a press photographer but he could also have been a protester. He said:

“We attempted to move the protesters and keep them at the side of the road. Officers signalled to the lorry pull out and then the defendant [Mr Yankowski Walker] pulled in front of the lorry to prevent its progress.”

Richard Brigden, defending, put it to Sergeant Metcalfe:

“Nobody said to the protesters or Mr [Yankowski] Walker that the lorry is about to move now”.

The sergeant relied:

“No one specifically”.

Mr Brigden suggested to another officer, PC Simon Findlow, that the lorry had moved towards Mr Yankowski Walker. PC Findlow replied:

“He stopped it from moving”.

A third officer, PC Amy Abram, said Mr Yankowski Walker ran up to the lorry and jumped up to the cab. Mr Brigden said this was not supported by the video.

Giving evidence, Mr Yankowski Walker said he had photographed 300-400 anti-fracking protests and had never been arrested. His pictures had appeared in newspapers, online and in magazines, including a Big Issue front cover.

Asked by Mr Brigden if he deliberately tried to stop the lorry, he replied:

“No. That would have been irrational.”

Mr Brigden asked:

“What caused you to move into contact with the lorry?”

Mr Yankowski Walker replied

“It was moving into me.”

He said he didn’t hear the warning or see a signal to the lorry driver to pull out.

“I was taking photographs of the cab and then all of a sudden it [the lorry] took off and it took me with it.

“The whole incident lasted about three seconds. I was making an assessment about what was the safe thing to do.”

Asked why he didn’t go back to the curb, he replied:

“It would not have been possible because the lorry was turning towards me. If I had gone that way I would have gone under the wheels”.

Mr Yip asked the judge to “infer the intentions” of Mr Yankowski Walker. Mr Brigden said his client had not intended to obstruct the lorry and the obstruction was minimal. He may have made a mistake in coming into close contact with lorry, Mr Brigden said. “But in this country we don’t convict people for making a mistake”.

District judge Carr said there were discrepancies in the police evidence but they were not material. He said:

“The video evidence is quite compelling. He [Mr Yankowski Walker] was walking with the camera with the intention of obstructing the lorry. It was more than de minimis. He is guilty of the offence.”

The district judge conditionally discharged Mr Yankowski Walker for a year and ordered him to pay £150 costs and £20 victim surcharge.

Travel to report this case was funded by individual donations to DrillOrDrop

30 replies »

  1. So the police person telling lies to the court is not to be charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice!
    Any reason for that I think we should be asking!

  2. “I have opinions on fracking…..”

    “Giving evidence-said he had photographed 300-400 anti-fracking protests”

    Really?? Work it out, must be such a very huge and beneficial market for such a number of photographs to cover that cost. But then we know who has problems with maths., but I suspect the courts are not in that category. I think he should have to answer the charge of breaching the Paris agreement with all that travelling.

  3. The true price of government supported o&g at the expense of an intelligent future of true renewable energy was always going to be a police state.
    Here we see it in practice, and the worse thing is, its only the beginning, we haven’t seen anything yet.
    Remember this on June 8th.

      • You dont watch enough….Clearly you dont read enough history either……
        With apologies to the estate of German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984).

        “First they came for the Protesters, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Protester.

        Then they came for the Photographers, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Photographer.

        Then they came for the Journalists, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Journalist.

        Then they came for the Media Broadcasters, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Media Broadcaster.

        Then they came for the Law Representatives, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Law Representative.

        Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

        “If we don’t learn the lessons of the mistakes of history, then we will be doomed to repeat them.”

        The police have lied in court, have perjured themselves in public, have falsely named the defendant a criminal when that was a lie and is a criminal offense in a court of law that would send anyone else straight to jail, have held the court and the law in contempt and brought the police into disrepute [Edited by moderator]

      • Dont put yourself down so much! You try your best, your just not up to it that’s all!
        C’mon, more death threats, you know you want to!

          • And whose diseased brain cells were required to be kicked out of their skulls to scrape together enough wit for that little gobbit of delusional verbal detritus?
            GottaTryHarderThanThatMiserableEffort!
            Just Love these little chats, you are worth your weight in gold to us!

  4. Well well, there you go folks, just a little provocation and all that contempt for law and justice just comes pouring out, because when it comes down to it, that’s all they have, just remember the sort of people you will be voting for on June 8th, and the sort of tender mercies that they have in store for you if we ever let them get control over us.
    Never let anyone tell you that you are powerless to prevent them, its just mind manipulation, its always been up to us whether let the dark wolf win, or to the light wolf, and it always will be.

    Have a great week!

    • The contempt for law and justice is coming from the antis on this BB, [edited by moderator]

  5. Was it not Mrs PhilC who posted that interesting essay about how to take direct action against the police? But it is too much to expect the police to be able to read, and as a result lose what bit of sympathy they might have had.

    You reap what you sow. But I’m sure you can still try and divert attention from the real culprits.

    For £30/year poor chaps have a pretty unsavoury job, especially with removing the Dirty Dozen.. Not a pleasant job when you consider the timeline and the inevitable consequences. A dozen in desperate need of a Tena!

  6. [Edited by moderator] Oh, So Very Very Wrong! Really! these guys don’t have the slightest idea, do they?

    They don’t like the truth do they?

    Perhaps they are in desperate need of a Tina! Ha Ha!

    • Errrr……thats a mirror you are talking to GottaBeHittingYourselfInTheKisser? We are over here….no, no, that’s a hole in the ground, over here…..no, no, silly boy, not there, thats a sudden drop….well, its a drill or drop actually….watch out! oops, silly boy, no, over here…..oh never mind….yeah, you just keep walking until you hit a deep deep hole, then keep going,,,,,no, of course its perfectly safe…..well, almost as safe as fracking, which is not safe at all, but of course you know that anyway.

      Oh dear, now you made yourself fall over! Never mind, Nana rub it better, don’t cry? God knows how you lot intend to find gas? You cant even see where you are going?

      Just ask Tina for directions, she will see you right….or is it left?

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