Updated: Campaigners seek appeal against UKOG injunction

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Four of the six women who challenged the UKOG injunction outside the Horse Hill site today. Photo: Jon O’Houston, 3 September 2018

Update on 5/9/2018

The deputy judge hearing the UKOG injunction case has refused leave to appeal. A statement from the court sent on 4 September 2018 said:

“The Deputy Judge has now had the opportunity to consider the above two applications and he has decided that both applications should be refused.

“Due to pre-existing commitments, the Deputy Judge is unable to give the reasons for his decision today but, as he indicated yesterday, he intends to give the reasons by close of play next Monday.”

A statement from the six women who challenged the injunction said:

We are considering all of our options with our lawyers, bearing in mind that it is open to us to seek permission to appeal directly to the Court of Appeal

Campaigners have lodged an appeal against the injunction granted this morning to an oil company outlawing direct action protests at exploration sites. (DrillOrDrop report)

The High Court curtailed a wide-ranging order sought by UK Oil & Gas for two sites in Sussex and Surrey.

But it granted an injunction to outlaw trespass, obstructing entrances and the highway, slow walking, targeting contractors and locking on or climbing on to vehicles.

Friends of the Earth and six women who challenged the injunction applied for an appeal this afternoon to the judge who granted the injunction.

Mr Justice Male said he would give his decision within 24 hours and his reasons within seven days.

If he rules against an appeal, the challengers can apply directly to the Court of Appeal.

It looks likely that if approved, the appeal would be dealt with at the same time as one against an injunction granted to Ineos. That is due to be heard at the Court of Appeal in March 2019 and to cover similar issues.

Stephanie Harrison, for the six women who live near UKOG sites in Sussex and Surrey, said they would challenge the injunction on the following grounds:

  • The injunction is against “persons unknown”
  • The questions of whether there was an imminent threat or whether the injunction was premature
  • Whether human rights law had been correctly applied to sections of the injunction dealing with protest on the highway
  • The prohibition of people combining together to interfere with UKOG’s economic interests
  • The replacement in the injunction of a prohibition on “watching” by “loitering” with the intention of compelling actions.
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Opponents of UKOG’s oil activities at Horse Hill react to news of the company’s protest ijunction, 3 September 2018. Photo: Jon O’Houston

Dave Timms, head of political affairs at Friends of the Earth, told DrillOrDrop he was particularly concerned about this last-minute change. He said this could have a chilling effect on campaigning by Friends of the Earth members.

He added:

“We are seeking leave to appeal on some of the remaining aspects of the injunction, including persons unknown and the curtailment of protest through the banning of slow walking which has been found to be lawful in other circumstances.

“We also have a wider concern beyond this injunction about the direction of travel of the growing use of injunction against free speech by the oil and gas industry.

“There is a significant threat to the right of democratic protest and right to free speech.”

Reporting from this court case was made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers

22 replies »

  1. My definition of desperate, Candor, is when discussion can only be conducted with facts being replaced by fiction. The antis have a rich history in this respect which is there for anyone to check.

    It doesn’t worry me at all, as the method is only going to damage the anti cause and will devalue real objections. But, I will continue to remind those who may have an interest in becoming more knowledgeable on the subject what is fact and what is fiction.

    This is not the only issue where antis have adopted the same approach. It keeps a few together but it turns off the majority. So, feel free but not unchallenged.

  2. I understand that the judge has refused permission to appeal. I’m surprised that this hasn’t been reported, given that this is an impartial journalistic site.

    • Hi palace1964

      The decision to refuse permission to appeal was passed to the parties in the case yesterday afternoon, but was not publicly announced.

      We’ve now been able to confirm that permission to appeal has been refused, and the piece has been updated.

      • Isnt it contempt of court to announce anything said by the judge until its been made public ? A bit like UKOG solicitors did with the injunction decision ?

  3. Very happy to contribute to an appeal crowfunder if they decided to apply directly to the Court of Appeal.

    It’s outrageous UKOG can buy a law that means ‘loitering’ becomes contempt of court with the penalty of imprisonment.

    And shame on those who believe this is appropriate in a democracy.

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