The fashion designer, Dame Vivienne Westwood, turned model this morning in a protest over the injunction acquired by the shale gas company, INEOS Upstream.
Along with her son, Joe Corre, and other campaigners, she took to a temporary catwalk near the INEOS head office in Knightsbridge, London.
Dressed in dresses and t-shirts with words Fracking Climate Chaos, the models carried “Frack Off INEOS” placards.
Dame Vivienne with son, Joe Corre, centre, 15 February 2018. Photo: Talk Fracking
The injunction, confirmed at the High Court in December 2017, outlaws many forms of anti-fracking protest, including slow-walking and lorry surfing.
It is directed against “persons unknown” and prohibits interference in the lawful activities of INEOS staff and contractors. People who breach the injunction order risk up to two years in prison, a fine of up to £5,000 or seizure of their assets.
The INEOS London headquarters and seven other sites are covered by the injunction.
Models on the catwalk near INEOS headquarters, 15 February 2018. Photo: Talk Fracking
Last month, Mr Corre and another anti-fracking campaigner, Joe Boyd, lodged papers with the Court of Appeal seeking to challenge the injunction. The court is currently considering their appeal request.
Mr Corre, who is represented by Bhatt Murphy solicitors, said today:
“People respect the law because they believe the law is there to protect them. If the law is able to be bought by corporations, if they are able to game the system to turn the law against us, then people will no longer respect the law. It’s as simple as that.
“Effectively, what INEOS has tried to do is add an additional layer of law on top of the laws we already have in this country that can make it an imprisonable offence, up to two years in prison, for standing up to them and protesting and exercising your human rights and your democratic right to protest against their activity.”
Joe Boyd, the other challenger to the injunction, said:
“The High Court judgment has wide ranging impacts on not only those involved in the campaign against climate change and fossil fuels, but also anyone who wishes to express opposition against any potentially controversial industry.
“I don’t think that people should be constrained to banner waving and petition signing in order to protect the environment and the health of their families and future generations. I very much hope the Court of Appeal will agree to review the current injunction and properly uphold our right to peacefully protest, a core value in this country’s democratic history.”
Rosa Curling, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, representing Mr Boyd, said:
“Free speech and a right to peacefully protest is at the heart of any effective democracy. The current injunction, which we are seeking to challenge in the Court of Appeal, has wide-ranging implications that reach far beyond any debate around the environmental damage of fracking.
“This case represents the right that all of us have to stand up and say that we don’t agree with something without facing the fear of arrest and imprisonment.”
INEOS tweeted this evening:
“As today clearly shows, our injunctions prohibit unlawful acts by protesters and in no way impinge on the right to peaceful protest.”
The company said in a statement:
INEOS noted with interest today’s event outside its London offices.
Since 2017 various anti-shale groups have claimed that INEOS’ recent legal action has made all protest unlawful in the UK. This is not the case, as today clearly shows. Our injunctions prohibit unlawful acts by protesters and in no way impinge on the right to peaceful protest. These injunctions simply protect INEOS and our people from hardcore activists who game the system and treat the law with contempt.
But the key message here is that if shale gas proves to be successful in the UK it provides the UK economy with highly competitive energy and it provides enormous levels of investment and jobs in the North of England where they are desperately needed.
Manufacturing jobs are not created without investment and there is precious little investment in the North of England in manufacturing.