Trial collapses against nine anti-fracking protesters in 60-hour lock-on

181001 PNR lock on Deb Whiteside 4

9-person protest outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site near Blackpool, 1 October 2018. Photo: Debs Whiteside

A court in Blackpool ruled today there was no case to answer against nine anti-fracking activists who took part in the longest lock-on protest outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site.

District judge Jane Goodwin called off the trial after criticising prosecutors over a lack of evidence.

The campaigners had denied charges of wilfully obstructing Preston New Road at the entrance to Cuadrilla’s fracking site.

The court heard that a contraflow was in operation during the protest and deliveries had been delayed.

But the judge intervened at the end of the prosecution case to complain that there had been no evidence from the police or local community about the effect of the protest. She also said there was no evidence on whether the police had used the five-step appeal process before making arrests.

“This court is at a loss at the absence of evidence and as such is deprived of the right to evaluate it.”

The case against all nine was dismissed.

One of the group, Jenny Harper, said she was elated at the outcome.

“We always thought we had a good case because our reasons for the protest were so strong. But it was just a question of whether the court acknowledged this.

“We also knew that the police had not gone through the proper procedures.”

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Nine anti-fracking campaigners after their acquittal, pictured with Nick Danby and Cllr Miranda Cox (centre back row), 26 March 2019. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

The protest began on 1 October 2018 when seven people locked themselves together on the ground outside the site and two climbed onto metal tripods. The protest continued for 60 hours until police unlocked the last person.

The campaigners said at the time they were protesting in solidarity with three men who had been jailed the week before for an earlier protest outside the Preston New Road site.

The area of the protest was covered by a High Court injunction, awarded to Cuadrilla against designated anti-fracking actions, including lock-ons. At the time, the company said it would “absolutely take action whenever this is feasible”.

11 replies »

    • Fascinating? Failure to submit sufficient proof of evidence and failure to comply with due process during arrest.

      Apparently the law is still the law and peaceful protest is still legal peaceful protest in the UK.
      Not the rich mans corporate In Junk Sham playground that Cuadrilla thought it was?

      It restores your faith in due process of law in the UK doesn’t it.

  1. Hopefully Caudrilla with now sue these “people” for breaching the injunction, and pursue them for their full costs incured, and take everything they have, upto and including bankruptcy.

    • Hi Wise Merlin,
      You sound like a compassionate human being with a social conscience and awareness of the major danger to the survival of our planet and it’s inhabitants, animal, vegetable and liquid!
      Ever thought of working in the Oil and Gas Industry or politics by any chance?

  2. Well done guys and well done to Judge Goodwin for coming to the only just and fair result for this trial.

  3. Thank you no, i am doing perfectly well im my own field of endeavour so far thanks. Hopefully those “people” who have managed to sidestep the consequences of their actions on this occasion will be brought to book at a later date.

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