The INEOS injunction against protests over shale gas exploration is to be challenged by a second campaigner when it comes to the High Court tomorrow (Tuesday 12 September).
Joe Boyd, who has taken part in anti-fracking protests across England since 2013, joins another challenger, Joe Corre, the environmental activist and founder of the lingerie firm, Agents Provocateur (DrillOrDrop report on Mr Corre’s challenge).
INEOS is seeking to make permanent an interim injunction granted by Mr Justice Morgan on 31 July 2017.
The interim injunction sought to prevent activities that obstructed INEOS Shale’s operations. It covered eight named locations, INEOS offices, property belonging to site landowners, companies in the supply chain, routes to proposed exploration sites and activities by employees and contractors.
Joe Boyd, 44, from Liverpool, told DrillOrDrop:
“By putting myself forward as a named defendant in these proceedings, I want to ensure that we as local people, citizens and campaigners still have the right to hold peaceful protests against the fracking industry and those involved in it.”
He said he had no assets and had been arrested nine times at anti-fracking protests. Four cases had been dropped before a court appearance, he said. He was acquitted on two charges and convicted on another two, both of which involved lock-on protests. He is awaiting trial on one case and is appealing against one of the convictions.
“In my four years of campaigning against the fracking industry in the UK, I have consistently seen the role of protesting as a fight for democracy at both a local and national level.
“This temporary injunction, if renewed at the hearing on 12 September, will be an unprecedented and long-term affront to our right to lawful protest.”
The injunction was granted at what is known as an ex-parte hearing, at which only INEOS and a group of landowners who have leased land to the company, were represented.
The case is likely to centre on what form of protest is lawful. After the initial hearing in July, INEOS told DrillOrDrop:
“All this injunction does is serve to reinforce what is unlawful. People have the same rights today with the injunction in place as they did yesterday. It doesn’t affect the peaceful right to protest.”
But the injunction specifically outlaws so-called slow walking, where protesters attempt to delay deliveries by walking slowly in front of lorries. This has been ruled as a lawful form of protest at some trials of campaigners in West Sussex and Surrey.
International guidelines state that only peaceful assembly is protected in law but this can include “conduct that may annoy or give offence, and even conduct that temporarily hinders, impedes or obstructs the activities of third parties”.
Mr Boyd said:
“INEOS states that it is not against peaceful legitimate protest but that is exactly what the injunction stops us from being able to do at the eight sites in the injunction, in areas across England, as well as in relation to a large number of other companies associated with INEOS.
“This injunction sets a precedent. It is huge.
“If I go and protest anywhere that is linked to INEOS then I am liable to prison and fines. It will take away the whole right to protest.”
He said his lawyers would argue that the interim injunction was unlawful because it breached Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human rights which protect rights to freedom of expression and association.
As a named defendant, Mr Boyd risks being liable for costs if he loses his challenge. He accused INEOS of using what he called “fear tactics” by warning that costs could be awarded against him. He said:
“I am not falling for it. I will take my chance. I have no assets.”
He said he expected to win because he said the judge had seen the evidence from only one side:
“There has been no threat to INEOS, no harassment, no intimidation, no occupations of their land, apart from a peaceful occupation at the Doe Green site in Cheshire.
“It is not a clear cut case, as INEOS has suggested.”
Mr Boyd is represented by the law firm Leigh Day and barristers Heather Williams QC and Blinne Ni Ghralaigh. He is crowdfunding for his challenge.
- DrillOrDrop will be reporting from the hearing, which is listed for 10.30am in the Rolls Building, Fetter Lane, London EC4A 1NL.