Picture post: Hundreds march through Preston in support of jailed anti-fracking protesters

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Anti-fracking campaigners protest through Preston about the jailing of three men last week. Photo: Eddie Thornton, 6 October 2018

Several hundred people demonstrated outside Preston Prison in support of three men who last week became the first people in the UK to be jailed for taking part in an anti-fracking protest.

Campaigners shouted “Free the Three” as they marched through the city centre to the prison where the men are being held.

Richard Roberts and Simon Roscoe Blevins were jailed for 16 months and Rich Loizou for 15 months by a judge at Preston Crown Court. They had been convicted of causing a public nuisance after taking part in a 99-hour lorry surfing protest outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool in July 2017.

Julian Brock, the fourth man who took part in the protest, was given a one-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty.

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Anti-fracking campaigners protest through Preston about the jailing of three men last week. Photo: Eddie Thornton, 6 October 2018

The organisers of the today’s event estimated about 500 people took part.

Platon Loizou, Rich Loizou’s father, who joined the demonstration, said:

“I’m amazed that so many people have come from so far just to show their support. These boys went on a demonstration, there was no violence, there was no damage and they ended up getting a 15 and 16-month sentence. It is unbelievable.”

Cllr Miranda Cox, of Kirkham Town Council, said:

“We feel that the sentencing was quite unfair, unjust, very unprecedented and so this is a turning point for the campaign against fracking in Lancashire and across the country.”

Anti-fracking campaigner, Leigh Coghill, said:

“It is an outrage and a scandal that three men are currently sat behind bars for the supposed crime of public nuisance for sitting quietly on top of a lorry.

“This is an emergency: fracking is imminent, our opposition has been broad and unrelenting, and individuals such as the frack-free four decided to take civil disobedience because democracy has been exhausted. Their imprisonment is inappropriate, not in the public interest, and an appeal is ongoing.”

Yesterday, lawyers for the three men in prison confirmed they would be appealing against the sentences (DrillOrDrop report). Also yesterday, the number of signatures on an open letter calling for a review of the sentences reached more than 1,000 (DrillOrDrop report).



Categories: Opposition

69 replies »

  1. KatT. I agree the sentences are severe, & because we are in a Parliamentary democracy, and they are not “political prisoners” they have a right to appeal. Nevertheless, the appeal judgement should, in my opinion, take into account the very costly impact on Cuadrilla, its suppliers, and the right of businesses & UK citizens to use the public highway & their rights to go about their daily lives with a reasonable expectation to use the roads they pay for with their taxes. Also the cost to LCC ratepayers to safely remove the lawbreakers from their intransigence to co-operate with the law enforcement that the police quite rightly required. If you, KatT resisted lawful arrest at great cost to the taxpayer- would you expect the courts to be sympathetic with you??. Another important factor is that none of the arrested were local people. They clearly cannot claim they represent local people. They made their point in the first hour of their protest. To go on for over 90hrs was just selfish. Anyway- let the courts decide.

    • Dr Riley, the courts have and do take into account the inconvenience caused and the rights of others. But this is of course considered in a legal context.
      The tax payer argument is rather spurious because those convicted are all tax payers the majority that oppose fracking will be tax payers and the majority that support fracking will be tax payers. And how much will it cost the tax payer to pay for these three men to be incarcerated? The issue here is purely one of was the sentence passed appropriate for the offence committed. And many, including myself, would say not. Consider the CPS sentencing guidelines and consider how many first time and even repeat offenders, that have committed crimes that the in the eyes of the public would be considered to be more serious, are given suspended sentences, community work and/or fines.

      • KatT. You make some good points. But none of the arrested are Lancashire CC ratepayers – who pay a component of their rates to pay for the Lancashire Constabulary to enforce the law. Those rate payers also pay for the County Courts to deal with the charges and judge the accused. As I said, I do think the sentences are severe, and I would not be surprised if the appeal does reduce the severity of the sentences. However, I think a very strong warning shot has been sent out that peaceful protest is OK, but protest that significantly disrupts the right of taxpayers, business, & citizens to go about their lawful freedom of movement & business, is paramount. Have you thought about the safety of third parties requiring emergency services that are drawn into sorting out these extraneous self indulgent protesters, rather than dealing with real urgent emergencies in the Fylde over those 90+ hours?. Quite apart from depleting local government financial resources better deployed to much more urgent human rights, such as elderly care, special needs etc., etc….

        • Dr Nick, you are looking at this from a very obscure angle. How about we go back a step and respect the decision of LCC? Work out the costing then….

          Unless you are privy to the background information of those arrested at PNR [and I would question your source under the GDPR] you cannot make such a blanket statement about the status of those arrested as council tax payees or not.

          The only message sent out is that of the curtailing of civil rights and freedoms…it has made main news headlines, the whole country is talking about the erosion of civil rights, fracking and climate change.

          It’s interesting you highlighted the diversion of emergency services over the duration…..you will need to provide evidence to show there were any serious consequences caused by the delay due to the protest. It would be a serious error on behalf of the police to not understand the needs of the other blue light services and make provision for them (as they do when a sporting event closes or contra flows roads for the weekend)

          Am happy you have drawn attention to the plight of the elderly and those with additional needs, however these comments are best directed at the governance who have cut funding to local councils, the companies that are hogging the police to ‘protect’ their non-tax paying businesses, and the long term shortfall in revenue from sales of property to pay for care in later life due to property prices plummeting……

          • Paragraph 1 LCC invest hundreds of millions in shale Gas operations

            Paragraph 2 the protesters were committing an illegal act 100%

            Paragraph 3 The message sent out is if you break the Law there are consequences

            Paragraph 4 Asking for proof it caused problems to emergency services to shut a main blue light route for more than 90 hours and then comparing it to policing a road for a sporting event is disgraceful

            Paragraph 5 Thank you for highlighting the local Council is short of money and protesters are causing £Millions of local money to be spent on policing. Cuadrilla are paying tax and providing £Millions into local business. The tax revenue alone when producing will be many £Millions. Oh and thank you for the bottom line statement, you’re worried about house prices; a true fully fledged nimby statement…

            • Kishy, silly kishy, we all know why LCC is really short of money, but perhaps you too are in that club….your statements are without validation; you will, at least, be famous in the great book of the people as the one who wrote a lot about nothing…….
              Enjoy your job peddling the black stuff, the clock is ticking 😉

            • Paragraph 1 Is this done directly by County Councillors or administered by fund managers?

              Paragraph 2 Agreed currently a crime under the eyes of the law but people have committed crimes of conviction for eons in an attempt to bring about change in law and government policy particularly where the law is unjust or policy is made by Governments with tin ears.

              Paragraph 3 sentencing should be proportionate and in line with previous case law not used as a tool to force poorly made government policy and to dissuade ongoing objections.

              Paragraph 4 still no answer to a legitimate question and the use of deflection indicates a lack of hard evidence.

              Paragraph 5 if the original legitimate refusal of the planning application by LCC had not been overturned by the SoS keen to push through the aforementioned poorly thought out government policy then there would be no protest and as a result no costs for an excessive policing operation to facilitate an unwanted industry on the Fylde.

              Regardless of how much tax is raised Central government will not refund Lancs Police it’s costs so the council tax payer remains out of pocket as a result whilst the pockets of those local businesses happy to get in bed with the frackers are lined at the expense of other locals.

              Happy to be called a NIMBY in this regard but the crux of the argument is that I don’t want in in my back yard, your backyard or anyone’s backyard. Where as the pro frack supporters are more than happy for it to be in my back yard.

              And why should anyone not be allowed to have concerns for the value of the own home and the affect of their property being blighted not only during the drilling and extraction process but long into the future as a result of an interloping industry that no one except this with vested interests want?

          • Sherwulfe.The whole country is not talking about YOUR project of the month .They are going about their business.Which they where not allowed on Preston Road over those 90+ hour Also Wasting my and all tax payer hard earned money .We will not except mob law .And those who break the law will be sentenced.Great strong Jugde

    • Don’t forget,

      “Cuadrilla Bowland Ltd must desist from carrying out any hydraulic fracturing operations at the Preston New Road site (including oil/gas wells designated PNR-1z or PNR2) until the hearing has taken place.”

      With spiralling costs it must be tempting, but no touching or you may get your assets seized.

      Smart move by Centrica not to risk another $6 million.

  2. These 3 sentenced protestors know they where breaking the law .When they jumped up on these lorry .We in this country do not except mob law .So these sentences will stop such law breaking in the future .The is why there was less than a hundred at this march .Dillordrop over exaggerating the number .Naughty

  3. Thank you Sherwulfe for responding to Dr Riley. He is very wide of the legal mark. The law and sentencing is applied across all our courts, you cannot expect the courts to hand out different sentences to reflect whether the offence was committed in Lancashire or London. Indeed some trials and hearings are deliberately held away from the location of the crime as it may prejudice the outcome and so forth. Yes there is some common sense flexibility in the range of sentencing for an offence but there are CPS guidelines and case law to rely on. It is a nonsense to argue that sentencing should reflect whether someone is local or is not local. The courts rightly look at the offence and the relevant circumstances relating to the offence. Consider all the national protests held in London, based on Dr Riley’s argument the courts should hand out extremely severe sentences to reflect the costs and inconvenience incurred by Londoners. And furthermore one can look at energy policy and climate change as being national and international issues. There is no law restricting opposition and the right to protest to locals only, thankfully!

    • Kat K. The protestors at PNR who were convicted did not protest peacefully.

      In London, organised protests are made & planned in advance, with the agreement of local agencies, such as the Met Police & the Mayor of London, with full risk assessments and agreed routes/venues. They have to be peaceful protests. The fact that a protest is organised is publicised to local people in advance, through road signs etc, placed there by local authorites. They, also usually take place on none working days – such as the anti-Brexit demo today in London, so as to limit the impact on people who wish to go about their right to go about their daily business. Also as London is the Capital City – where national government is located – it should bear the brunt of protests. By all means go ahead and organise a national peaceful protest against fracking in London (using the established authorised procedures), if you consider government is failing on this issue..

      I made the point about those who have been convicted not being local people, in the context of – they do not represent the majority of local people . Not as an issue over sentencing. I acknowledged your comment that the sentences were severe, and they will likely be reduced on appeal – but that decision is for the courts.

      We all have the right for peaceful protest. I have used that right myself & gone to London to participate in organised peaceful nationa; protests. I have also protested in my locality – over local issues – but never obstructed anyone for going about their right to privacy or going about their daily business..

      Finally, the elected councillors at LCC turned down the PNR application against the advice of the expert full time staff at the LCC (e.g the Senior Planning Officer & LCC’s own legal team). It was there when it happened. Local government has to comply with planning guidelines, in this case mineral planning. It is likely that an appeal will be successful if Councillors ignore this, as has been the case. This is to ensure consistency nationally & deliberately limits local government decisions with the limited powers that have been devolved to them.

    • What a silly statement, you actually haven’t got a clue how many turned up. Your guesstimate comes from a couple of pictures which may or may not be reprentative of the actual attendance. There could be tens, hundreds or thousands in attendance but the pictures will only show the amount in frame.

  4. Interesting to see how the antis have to resort to fantasy and attempts to attack someone because he actually has some knowledge of the subject! Not for the substance and the facts, but just anti knowledge. Very 1984.

    I recognise it is a dangerous commodity within the anti camp, that operates on the basis of such gems as “cheap oil and gas sloshing around the world.”.


    “Despite the rise of solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy, oil is still the lifeblood of the industrial economy” (Can add gas into that too.)

    “Still”, and forecast to continue.

    Equally, if I have a new local source of wine (I do) I do not become a binge drinker. I simply replace what I would have consumed produced overseas. My local vineyards receive an income, the bottle manufacturers as well, jobs are created. I have worked in a local vineyard (casual work-great: now called zero hour contract-evil) whilst waiting to start a new job and paid taxes on my income IN THE UK. The owner of the vineyard also paid taxes IN THE UK. Maybe that vineyard owner actually starts to export some of what he produces and makes more income and pays more tax. (Bit like the Norwegians do at the moment thanks to UK buying their oil and gas.) And then, what happens when Sterling drops in value against other countries? Oops. Imported wine, oil and gas suddenly more expensive. Three day weeks, high unemployment, price controls forcing more unemployment. Very 1970s.

    • Just like the Kinder Scout protestors Martin goes in for a bit of off track rambling, the only difference is his is of the literary kind.

  5. I’m very worried that the prison sentences were a deliberate ploy to distract attention from the fact that the filthy frackers do not appear to have suitability large insurance cover to reimburse people, property owners, utility companies and tourism and farming business owners for the damage that may be caused from the fracking activities that may soon commence!

    • Insurers refusing cover and money lenders refusing to lend on properties close to fracking sites will surface soon.

      • Why JP? As you keep telling us this will never be commercial it will go away in a few months, perhaps even sooner if the injunction is upheld. Or perhaps the injunction will prolong your agony for several additional months while LCC compiles an emergency plan? Of course it is possible the PNR location will become a COMAH site if the results are good and production starts up. Then plans in accordance with COMAH will need to be addressed…..

        And why would any lender need to lend money to houses near fracking sites when you are telling us no one will buy and values will drop?

  6. Whilst some debate the numbers who attended, can any of the so called ‘Pro’ side of this debate post a recent photograph of hundreds of pro frackers demanding that they need to get on with fracking or anything else for that matter? I wont hold my breath. You certainly would not need a wide angle lens lol! Just keep tapping your keyboard and talk amongst yourselves. There are those that ‘do’ and those that talk about ‘doing’.

    n.b. Shareholder meeting excluded – that is just a business meeting. Nor shall we include the hourly paid rent a mob in Blackpool a few years ago – what a laugh that was. We might as well disregard astro-turfers too.

  7. Actually Waffle, the more who attended the march the more successful the sentences have been! If they are marching through Preston then they have been “decoyed” away from the sites, and the contractors. Come on, do engage the grey cells.

    “There are those that “do” and those that talk about “doing””. Indeed there are Waffle. There are those who say “Hold strong. We applaud you” who were indicating not long ago that breaching an injunction would be unlikely to gain too great a punishment and were cautioned that was dangerous as sentences sometimes operate to deter copy cat crimes. Perhaps you should take a look at the anti exciters and question whether their suggestions really are that helpful to those that end up “doing” time.

    • Waffle to spare you the tedium the abridged version of that reply “No I cannot post a picture of a profrack meeting with hundreds of people in attendance, mainly because they usually take place in a phone box”

  8. Martin, folk are a lot smarter that you give them credit for. They have used their grey cells and it is you who and others who have fallen for the ‘decoy’. You will have to take my word for that for the time being. By the way, both the well site and the Courts are policed by the same force. They too will have been dragged away by the ‘decoy’. Elementary, Mon Ami. Have a nice evening.

  9. Not elementary at all Waffle. I thought this “crowd” came from far and wide???? There are other sites around the country. DOHH!

    Nope, not a lot of grey cells being used.

    Why would anyone who wants to see the results of test fracking be protesting, or rallying? The process continues to be authorised, the tests will start shortly. We are quite comfortable that results will emerge when they emerge. If they are successful you may not like to see the backlash from the silent majority once they have proof that they have been conned. Ear plugs may be required if repeat marches are planned for Preston following that result. So, best to get it done with prior to that.

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