Freed campaigners call for mass demonstration outside fracking site

181017 Preston release Eddie Thornton2

(left to right) Richard Roberts, Rich Loizou and Simon Roscoe Blevins outside Preston Prison, 17 October 2018. Photo: Still from video by Eddie Thornton

Three campaigners freed today by the Court of Appeal have called on people to join a mass demonstration outside the UK’s first shale gas fracking site for seven years.

Richard Roberts, Simon Roscoe Blevins and Rich Loizou were released from Preston Prison this afternoon after three appeal court judges described their jail sentences as “manifestly excessive”.

They had been sentenced to 15-16 months after being found guilty of public nuisance. They had taken part in a lorry surf protest outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool that lasted a total of 99 hours.

Speaking outside the prison this afternoon, Rich Loizou said:

“Today’s decision affirms that when people peacefully break the law out of a moral obligation to prevent things such as the fossil fuel industry, they should not be sent to prison.

“The fracking industry threatens to industrialise our beautiful countryside. It will force famine, flooding and many other disasters on the world’s most vulnerable communities by exacerbating climate change.

“Fracking is beginning right now. So there has never been a more critical moment to take action. Your planet needs you.

“We encourage everyone is who able to, to join us this Saturday for a mass demonstration at the UK’s first fracking site next to Blackpool. And to look up activist network Reclaim the Power to find opportunities to take direct action or volunteer in vital support roles.”

Opponents of Cuadrilla’s operation at Preston New Road near Blackpool had already planned a National Climate Crisis Rally outside the site on Saturday 20 October 2018 to mark the start of fracking.

Before the men’s release, supporters gathered outside the prison as news reached that the Court of Appeal had quashed the jail sentence.

181017 Preston release Eddie Thornton

Supporters of the three anti-fracking campaigners wait for their release from Preston Prison, 17 October 2018. Photo: Eddie Thornton

The Lord Chief Justice, Sir Ian Burnett, sitting with two other judges, said:

“In our judgement the appropriate sentence which should have been imposed on the 26th of September was a community order with a significant requirement of unpaid work.”

He said the men had already spent three weeks in prison, which is the equivalent of a six-week sentence:

“As a result of that we have agreed that the proper sentence is a conditional discharge for two years.”

The decision has been widely welcomed by environmentalists, politicians and campaigners. See DrillOrDrop report

A news conference is scheduled for 10.30am tomorrow (18/10/2018) by the three men, outside Preston New Road.  While they were in prison, on Monday 15 October 2018, Cuadrilla started fracking at the site.

The National Climate Crisis Rally is due to take place between 12 noon and 2pm at the Maple Farm Community Hub on Preston new Road.

37 replies »

  1. When society allows people to violate others’ rights simply because they think they are “right” it’s a sad day. If this behavior was allowed to continue then anyone with an opinion about anything could trash your property and prevent you from going about your lawful business. As usual, the anti-fracking [edited by moderator] is long on emotional appeal and short on common sense.

    • Interestingly Bob, your comment could be turned round completely by observing that the govt and industry have allowed/been allowed to violate others’ rights and everything else you mention. Sound evidence regarding climate change, traffic, social and environmental harm, lack of redress etc was put forward, local opinion, MPA and government planning inspectors agreed, yet the violation continues. Not much emotional appeal but short on common sense. Ask the IPCC.

  2. “when people peacefully break the law” ahhh that’s ok then folks, next time you plan on breaking the law just make sure you do it peacefully. Think someone needs to go back to school, primary school. Dangerous times with these people, give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.
    I’d give them a piece of advice and that is don’t test the courts patience but of course they’ll not listen.
    Bets on what Esme and Henry will get?

    • “….give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.”

      Aye, just like then bloody suffragettes – bloody women, expecting to vote. And them bloody slaves – bloody slaves, expecting to be free men. And them workers – bloody workers, expecting fair pay, holidays and all that. It’s all gone downhill since the good old 1800s.

    • GBK needs to wise up to current events – the status quo is no longer acceptable as the recent IPCC sets out. It’s system change or climate change. Adapt and survive. If you have kids, grandchildren or nephews and nieces then I assume you want them to live in a habitable world without rising sea levels, more extreme weather events, mass population displacement and even more famine.

    • its you who needs to get some sense of proportion!You are squeuing this in reflection of your own obvious view that fracking is ok. These guys differ and are genuinely concerned for all of our futures ( including yours) and reached a point where doing something “ illegal” / likely to end in prosecution was worth risking to try and protect us from harm…
      The appeal judge has upheld the proper sense of proportion( He is Judge- not us) in declaring the “ sentence “ should be one of “ community work” not expensive incarceration/ punishment – coz these guys want to give to the community in what theyre doing- this is really appropriate- dunno why you have a problem- i’m sure they dont- sort of thing theyd do anyway- like give a damn… unlike others who like to opine but cant be arsed to even show!

  3. If Mr G B Kidding (and hey, it’s got to be a bloke, hasn’t it?) had his way, there would still be colonial rule in India, Apartheid in South Africa and women in the UK wouldn’t have a vote. All of which changed because of people ‘breaking the law’ and protesting peacefully. If the law is wrong, it should be challenged peacefully.

  4. Gbk, sour grapes…. the law breakers are the ones imposing a toxic industry onto us undemocraticly, they are breaking environmental law. These three guys aren’t fantasists or deluded. The evidence is there as marked down in historical events…cast your mind back to 2011 preese halll. Yea… that’s right. I can almost hear the cogs slowly turning in your head. Overwhelming evidence by many of the top scientists and accademics prove that it is a dangerous and volatile and definitely NOT NEEDED industry. Unlike the pro fracking scientists who get payouts to come up with the “correct” evidence.

  5. I have to say, though that picking the same day for this demo as the People’s Vote march isn’t brilliant timing and a bit foolish. All the press focus – and a lot of the people – who would be going to this demo in Lancashire are probably already going to the People’s Vote march. Why not move it to next weekend, guys?

  6. Just a note. The National Climate Rally at PNR on Saturday 20th October is now starting at 11.00 am rather than 12.00 noon. It’s going to be a great day.

  7. Justice is at last being seen to be done in the freeing of these 3. How anyone can support Fracking in the light of the evidence against it, I fail to see. The whole of our country needs to rise up against it.

  8. Don’t take any notice of GBK, he is just upset today because he wants to bring back flogging for anyone who dissagrees with what he thinks. Toys and pram.

  9. I’m always suspicious when someone does not use their real name. Unless, of course, GottaBKidding IS his real name.
    I wonder how he got it? Did someone shout it out when the vicar dropped him in the font?

  10. GBK you are well aware that the powers that be had to find a ‘charge’ that could lead to a custodial sentence. The charge of public nuisance was as old as the hills and probably never previously used in your lifetime. Strangely enough, the police tried to use the same charge against two protectors earlier this week and it has suddenly been dropped resulting in no charge. Spooky or what? The High Court has said this charge is inappropriate and should not have been used. The same goes for the failed section 241 of The Trade Union Regulations. The use of trumped-up charges to intimidate people have all been knocked back. It also looks very much like the various injunctions are now probably toothless. The protectors have been hit with the full force of the law and they are still standing. Please get used to it. We ain’t going nowhere! Sweet dreams.

    • Actually, the court hasn’t stated that the charge of public nuisance was inappropriate. They’ve merely backtracked on the sentencing. These three anarchists remain guilty of public nuisance having been found as such by a jury. A fourth pleaded guilty to the offence.

      • Public nuisance? big deal.
        The kids playing cricket and football against the gable end of my house is a nuisance, specially when i am trying to watch songs of praise, but i wouldn’t phone the police and expect them to be put in prison

        • I’m sure even you will agree that kids playing football or cricket and slightly disrupting your viewing of Songs of Praise doesn’t really equate to lorry surfing and the disruption of lawful business and the general public for 4 days, costing tens of thousands of pounds.

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