Legal

“We need to be able to witness history as it happens” – acquitted fracking photojournalist

A photojournalist who reports on anti-fracking protests had his conviction for obstructing the highway overturned on appeal today.

Peter Yankowski Walker, who has been covering the protests for about four years, was acquitted at Bolton Crown Court by a judge and two magistrates.

After the hearing, Mr Walker, who lives in Oldham, said:

“I truly believe that we need to be able to witness history as it happens.

“It is very important that people capture what is happening in an unbiased way close up.

“The story is not being told in the mainstream media so it has to be told by independent journalists and through social media.”

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Photo by Peter Yankowski of protest at A E Yates’ depot in Bolton

Mr Walker had been found guilty in May 2017 by a district judge at Manchester Magistrates Court. (DrillOrDrop report)

The prosecution case was that he tried to slow down a lorry at the end of an anti-fracking protest near a depot in Bolton in February. The depot had been the focus of multiple protests because it belonged to A E Yates, the main construction contractor at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road near Blackpool.

Mr Walker said he had been at the protest for about five minutes and he was in front of the lorry for about three seconds.

But the Manchester court  imposed a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered Mr Walker to pay £150 costs and £20 victim surcharge.

Mr Walker said today:

“I have never been arrested before this.

“I did not intend to stop the wagon or obstruct the highway. I intended to keep myself safe.

“It would have been really stupid to jump in front of a wagon.  Why would I risk getting a mark against me?

“The judge and the magistrates said today this was a credible explanation.”

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Peter Yankowski photo of protest at Preston New Road, near Blackpool

Mr Walker said the arrest had affected his work covering protests at Preston New Road.

“I have been threatened with arrest by the police since then.

“The police and security at Preston New Road knew my name.

“I had got on the police radar as someone of interest to keep an eye. It did affect me in a small way.”

Reacting to his acquittal, he said:

“I have got a clean record again. I am of good character. It feels really good.”

 

6 replies »

    • Well done Peter Yankowski Walker, this proves yet again that police arrests are a strategy for intimidation.
      Thank you Peter for recording this national event which is as much social as it is political and financial.
      Would that the media in general were so objective.

  1. One day history will prove him right. Those involved and those who know him know this right now but for the vast majority of people who are being shielded from the truth by the government and Main Stream Media will only learn about fracking after it has done the damage it will do.

    Peters photos have been outstanding. From the very first photo I saw of his taken at Barton Moss I knew he was an outstanding talent with a very sharp eye. A haunting shot of the rig installed there through winter trees at night – instantly recognisable as a quality image.

    Lovely guy, passionate supporter of this cause and others, master of his craft, many memorable and revealing images of our times, his work will be increasingly valued as time goes by. Wrongfully arrested, rightly exonerated. Congratulations Pete!

  2. Nick-sorry to burst your bubble, but Main Stream Media are not that interested in your activities-yet. I have seen this type of situation previously and they do not waste effort until it gets to produce the optimum news. I suspect they (many) are waiting to see if fracking in UK tests well. Then they will have a really strong story, and they will play it out. Meanwhile they will record current events for future reference, haircuts will have been noted!

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