Two anti-fracking campaigners are challenging an injunction by INEOS Shale in a case beginning at the High Court tomorrow morning (Tuesday 31 October 2017).
It seeks to prevent protests interrupting the company’s plans to explore for shale gas across England.
Joe Corre, (left) son of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, and Joe Boyd, will argue that the injunction, is unlawful and breaches human rights.
An interim injunction was granted in July at a hearing attended only by INEOS and landowners who leased land to them.
An initial challenge was heard on 12 September (DrillOrDrop report) and the full hearing in front of Mr Justice Morgan, is expected to last for three days this week.
Mr Boyd, represented by Leigh Day, will argue that INEOS has not produced evidence to justify an interim order. He will also make the case that the injunction will have a substantial impact on the rights of people who want to protest against drilling for shale gas across the UK.
His case has been supported by the co-leader of the Green Party, MP Caroline Lucas. She said in a witness statement:
“Reasonable obstructions of the highway, such as slow walking, and peaceful protests are legitimate tactics in the anti-fracking and other political movements.
“Slow walking has become a particularly important form of protesting in the anti-fracking movements across the UK and I understand the injunction obtained by Ineos makes this unlawful – a development which I think is extremely worrying and detrimental to our democracy.”
Mr Corre said today Articles 10 and 11 of the Convention on Human Rights, which protect rights to freedom of speech and association, were under attack in the case.
He accused INEOS of frightening people who wanted to oppose fracking. He described the order as:
“A draconian all-encompassing pre-emptive injunction that could put law-abiding citizens in prison for doing something that is not an imprisonable offence.
“INEOS have effectively told locals that if they even put their foot in the wrong place or criticise INEOS on social media, they could lose their livelihoods and homes by having their assets seized.”
Mr Corre’s case is supported by a witness statement from Richard Scholey, a retired public order police inspector, who lives in Woodsetts, South Yorkshire, where INEOS wants to explore for shale gas. He said:
“INEOS is seeking to tell the police how to do their job and privatise the law”.
INEOS had claimed at the July hearing that there was an imminent threat to its sites, staff and contractors. It sought to prevent protests that interfered with its activities or those of companies in its supply chain.
The injunction, against persons unknown, covered eight named locations, including two proposed shale gas sites in Derbyshire and Rotherham, as well as company offices and property belonging to site landowners.
It also applied more widely than injunctions sought by previous oil and gas companies by covering routes to the proposed exploration sites and to activities undertaken by INEOS employees and members of its supply chain. This included any depot, equipment, people and operations.
According to the order, anyone who breached the order by “interfering with lawful activities” would be “held in contempt of court and may be imprisoned, fined or have your assets seized.”
- The hearing begins at 10.30am in Court 30, The Rolls Building, Fetter Lane, London EC4A 1NL. DrillOrDrop will be reporting from the court.