Shock over family connections of judge who jailed three anti-fracking campaigners

181006Preston Protest Eddie Thornton 3

Anti-fracking protest in support of three men jailed for public nuisance offences. Photo: Eddie Thornton, 6 October 2018

Campaigners have raised concerns about links between the judge who jailed three anti-fracking protesters last month and his family’s business in supplying the oil and gas industry.

His Honour Robert Altham sentenced Simon Blevins and Richard Roberts to 16 months and Rich Loizou to 15 months for climbing onto lorries delivering to the site near Blackpool. They had denied causing a public nuisance by climbing onto the cabs of the lorries. But they were found guilty at a jury trial in August.

A company run by Judge Altham’s sister, Jane Watson, is listed as a shale gas advocate by the pro-fracking North West Energy Task Force.

nwetf advocates

Ms Watson also signed a letter calling on Lancashire County Council to “grant permission for the development of two exploratory wells in Lancashire” and “to give “shale a chance”.

Ms Watson is listed by Companies House as the managing director of Mrs J C Altham and Sons (Lancaster) Limited. It provides supplies and equipment to offshore oil and platforms.

A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire described revelations about Ms Watson’s support for the onshore shale gas industry as “quite shocking”.

The group pointed to the Guide to Judicial Conduct which states:

“Where a close member of a judge’s family is politically active, the judge needs to bear in mind the possibility that, in some proceedings, that political activity might raise concerns about the judge’s own impartiality and detachment from the political process.”

The FFL spokesperson said:

“The positive involvement of his sister’s company with shale gas advocacy is made obvious in the NWETF’s (North West Energy Task Force) list of shale gas advocates which show both its name and location.

“It is clear that questions need to be asked here.”

The three men have lodged an appeal against their sentence and the hearing is expected soon.

43 replies »

  1. Most of us would be “shocked” if there was a judge in the country that didn’t have some ownership in oil and gas businesses. Let’s face it, most mutual funds own oil and gas stocks and many of those could benefit from a rational business climate for onshore oil and gas in the UK. If you can’t do the time, don’t commit the crime.

  2. Odd that the Directors amended company details the day before this story broke. Odder still that they have million pound houses, which is a lot for running a little shop, and a lot for Lancaster.


    Judge who jailed fracking protesters with ‘excessive’ sentence has family links to oil and gas firm.

    On the back of this information , could there now be grounds for an internal investigation and/or re-trial ????

    There can NOT be the slightest hint of any possible bias by a judge when making his/her judgement on a case . The TRUST of the British people in the judicial system is of the utmost importance . This trust must be maintained at ALL cost.

    This Judge may be a man of the highest integrity, honesty and an upstanding member of society.

    BUT as some may be aware, IF you have ANY connection to a defendant in a case , you can NOT sit on the Jury in that case . DOES or SHOULD this apply with the Judge in this case ????

    Your thoughts please .

    • PLEASE NOTE………..

      Referring to the above.

      When I say ” connections ” I am in this instance, referring to his close family links with the Oil and Gas industry.

          • The links above are the family business (x2) – the Judge’s sister. A Butcher and a pretty small ship supply company, toilet cleaner being the most popular product…..

            [Edited by moderator]

            • PAUL TRESTO,

              I take note of the points you make.

              Let it be known, that I be the first person who will never pass judgement on another person, unless they are proven guilty .

              We have to hold the utmost of trust in our Judges, or else the whole system will fall in to disarray . What starts a small insignificant , nagging lack of trust can over time manifest itself in to a brick wall of complete and utter distrust .

              I do in the light of the offence, feel that the punishment for these three men was unduly harsh for what they did . Especially when you gauge it against other hardened, violent criminals that can continually flaunt the law and walk away with nothing more than a ” slap on the wrists. ”

              In hindsight, maybe a judge with ZERO family connections would of been a better choice for public confidence/trust.

              • Jack
                The family is also said to have links with offshore wind. So maybe he went easy on them.
                Note that the mail says ..l. It is said!
                I think that it is a red herring in this case, but good to see the Mail is looking impartial on the issue?

            • Hewes62,

              I see your point , maybe a Judge with zero connections in any degree, with the O&G or Offshore Wind industry would of been better choice .

              You can see , how possibly, sticky these situations can become for both sides .

    • website under the ‘what can I complain about’ list the things they can investigate including:
      “Misusing Judicial Status for personal advantage or gain” and “Failure to declare a potential conflict of interest”
      Seems fairly straightforward

  4. HEWES62,

    I’ve not been able to find the links supporting your comments about J.C Althan family members having a connection to offshore wind farms.

    Please can you cut and paste the links

    What I have found , is that the Judges sister’s is a strong supporter of Fracking in Lancashire and the family has connections to the Centrica, as part of a supply chain for the company .

    Let’s not forget, Centrica has invested ( wasted ) huge sums of money in to the Cuadrilla Fracking project .

    • Jack
      The Mirror has exclusively reported on the links between company J.C Altham and Centrica says
      It goes on to say that ‘ it is believed that’ etc etc.
      This repeated on R.T .com, The Daily Mail, U.Tube ( just google ..they all come up.

      The mirror also only believes that there is a link.

      So, really bad reporting from the all of the reports, and in particular the Mail, as they only ‘believe’ they are part of the supply chain to the oil and gas industry, but offer no evidence., no evidence is required, you just need to be,i every someting and other be,i eve it is true! No need for evidence.

      However, sleuths here on Drill or Drop can reveal …

      The company runs a chandlery business in Heysham ( google the name ). Or Yell. There is also a butchers of that name.
      This business supplied chandlery and associated supplies to boats ( as you would expect. )
      The harbour hosts vessels supporting the Morecambe bay gas field and wind farm ( see Lancaster City Council Port Health …

      The Morecambe bay gas field is run by Centrica ( google Morecambe bay gas field )
      There are a number of wind farms .. the West Duddon Sands wind farm, Ormonde Wind Farm and West Barrow wind farm.

      Therefore we believe that the company supply equipment to wind farms, fishing vessels, the Morecambe bay gas field, sailors and any others who drop in for chandlery and meat.

      Note that the supplies are taken out by supply vessels, not by Althams, so similar to buying from Amazon.

      Hence I believe that there is a link between Althsms and the offshore wind companies, supply vessel companies, fishing vessels, etc etc.

      The key to this is that the papers say they only believe the story, and then fail to provide any background or evidence.

      You get more for you money here on DOD.

      I would be really surprised if you have a link without the ‘believe word in it’

      • Jack
        The conclusion was … yes there is a link to oil and gas, but the same as a link to anyone who buys from their shop.

        Plus really poor reporting from the various tabloids, but no surprise. They sell you the story, not the facts.

        They could not be bothered to say what the family business was ( I believe that would have ruined their story ).

        Note, the bit about fracking advocacy is different.

        [Typos corrected by moderator]

        • HEWES62 ,

          I take the point you make regarding possible bias or sloppy reporting.

          We do see time and time again, how certain media outlets have heavy slants on particular topics , or like to press hone certain agendas to the readers.

          BUT still, after all said and done, there is a connection to a company like Centrica who as we all know, is ALL IN for shale.

          AND his own sister has gone out of her way to promote and push for shale in Lancashire.

          I’m not putting Judge Altham on trail here , in any way, shape or form. What I am trying to specifically say, is that with many thousands of Judges up and down the country , why choose this one ? It was always going to backfire .

          Also I do feel that the sentences were a little harsh , considering that perpetual, violent career criminals can endlessly walk from courts with little more than slap on their wrists.

          As I have said to MARTIN , I will follow this case with interest and see how it unfolds over the coming weeks , before passing judgement .

  5. Jack-perhaps you should read the Judicial Code, rather than making one up that suits your point of view.

    It will be the former rather than the latter that is the key, and without knowing all there is to know, similar to everyone else, I would expect this does not breach the Judicial Code whilst it may breach the antis Code of Grievance.

    What about the antis who have families who buy their gas from British Gas. Perhaps it means they should stay out of the situation? Maybe they are only influenced by the latest price increase, and have a vendetta because of it?

    • MARTIN ,

      YES , the ” Judicial Code ” is quite clear on Conflicts of Interest and Bias.

      NOW , to put it clear as to how the Judicial system works hard to make sure that both the Prosecution AND the Defence get an equal and fair crack of the whip.

      I will put this to you , maybe it will help you understand the matter a little better………… Any persons/persons who have the slightest connection with either the defendant or the prosecution in a court case , is NOT allowed to serve on the Jury in that Trail .

      That’s how far the Judicial System goes to try and eliminate ALL possibilities of any BIAS or CONFLICT OF INTERESTS in a case .

      Without passing judgement I will let you ponder on that one for a while .

      PS.. …… To say that I’m trying to make up a ” judicial code that suits my point of view ” is a very silly and unfounded comment. Please credit the members of this forum with a little more intelligence .

      • MARTIN ,

        Adding to the above.

        The same ALSO applies to anyone serving in a court case with a Conflict Of Interests.

        Let’s, see how this matter unfolds over the coming weeks , before either of us pass judgement .

    • He should have declared his interest. If he had nothing to hide, why wasn’t he honest? If you do a little research on Google and type in a few names and companies it all makes sense. It’s not too hard to put the pieces together. There was a clear conflict of interest and he should have mentioned this. Period.

  6. Jack-you can simply scroll up the page to see the section regarding a Judge and how he should view the Judicial Code. Somewhat different to how you suggest.

    I would suggest Judge’s are quite used to this Code, unlike ourselves, and are pretty adept at applying it. But, as you indicate, we will see.

  7. Reblogged this on Changing for the Climate and commented:
    some people just don’t understand the fact that what they do has an outcome and effects others. there are other people they should consider, it also affects the environment. when people wanna make money they start to forget there is more to life than making money and trying to get rich and because of that the planet is slowly dying. we need to start considering the planet and just ourselves.

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