Legal

Oil company seeks to add 100+ people to protest injunction

191210 Horse Hill HHPG3

Lock-on protest outside UKOG’s Horse Hill site in Surrey, 10 December 2019. Photo: Horse Hill Protection Group

The oil company, UKOG, has listed 116 extra people who it says should be covered by a High Court injunction granted against protests at its drilling sites.

Less than a quarter of the new people have been identified by name. The rest have been described from images.

The oldest images date back more than five years. Two-thirds of the individuals on the list were identified or described from images recorded on a single date in 2018.

Of the 26 individuals who have been named, more than a quarter of the identifications were qualified by phrases such as “believed to be”. Two of the names were said to have been provided by police. At least two names appear to have been misspelt.

The list is a response to new guidance this month from the Court of Appeal following a landmark case involving the high-end clothing company, Canada Goose. The appeal court judges said companies must identify specific people – at least by description – against whom they seek an injunction.

UKOG’s existing injunction, granted in 2018, covers several classes of “persons unknown”, as well as nine individuals and the campaign organisation, Friends of the Earth.

Now the company will ask the High Court, at a hearing due next month, to extend the injunction to a total of 132 defendants.

In a document posted on its website, the company said:

“UKOG has tried, thus far, not to single out individual unlawful protestors, but rather to proceed against persons unknown. However, the law has developed in such a way that they now have no choice but to do so.”

A company said it had identified 116 individuals who were not already named defendants to the injunctions. A spokesperson said:

“UKOG’s lawyers have sought to identify defendants by name or to identify them by reference to video or body-camera footage and give them a pseudonym if necessary.

UKOG said the people on the new list had been:

“directly involved in unlawful direct action in the past and who UKOG therefore reasonably fear might do so again if not restrained by injunction”.

The new people are listed on a schedule, downloadable from UKOG’s website, which has been submitted to the High Court.

Analysis of the schedule by DrillOrDrop shows:

  • 93 of the individuals were not identified by name
  • 7 of the 26 people who were named were qualified with phrases including “believed to be”, “possibly”, “known as” or “understood to be”
  • 62 of the individuals were said to be men; 52 were women
  • 6 individuals were not described as men or women

Descriptions

The descriptions of 93 people were from images on social and mainstream media. Most of the descriptions were of an individual’s gender, clothing and hair style or colour.

Examples include:

“Woman in knee length green dress and straw hat”

“Woman in navy strap top with curly mouse coloured hair with navy bow”

“Man with green joggers, black jacket/hoody, red coloured boots”

“Man on right in black/navy hoody, jeans, wellington boots, with dark medium length hair”

“Man with large white beard, navy blue jumper and beige gillet, black trousers and brown scarp wrapped as a hat.”

“Middle aged man on left with no beard wearing hat with tartan print, black fleece and high viz jacket”

“Various individuals as shown in BBC footage including woman in red t-shirt and beige pullover hoody, brown hair tied back.”

“Unlawful acts”

52 of those on the list were said to have taken part in slow walking, which UKOG described as an “unlawful act”.

Slow walking is a widely used technique in protests against fracking and the onshore oil and gas industry, where opponents seek to delay deliveries by walking slowly in front of vehicles.

It has been tolerated, or even facilitated, by some police forces. The criminal courts have acquitted many people charged with obstruction involving slow walking protests. The Court of Appeal struck out sections of the Ineos injunction relating to slow walking.

Other individuals on the schedule were accused by UKOG of protests involving:

  • Lock-ons (12)
  • Trespass (36)
  • Obstruction (79)
  • Breaking down gate (3)
  • Climbing onto vehicles (5)

These figures add up to more than 116 because some individuals have been accused of more than one alleged unlawful act.

Dates and places

Almost all the images used in the schedule to identify or describe people were taken on 12 dates between 22 October 2014 and 10 December 2019.

Of the 116 new people on the list:

  • 76 were identified or described from images taken on a single date: 20 August 2018
  • 112 were identified or described from images taken before Mr Justice Male granted UKOG’s interim injunction on 3 September 2018.
  • 11 were identified from images for which there was no precise date
  • 3 were listed based on images taken in 2014
  • 112 were identified from images taken at Horse Hill in Surrey, 4 from Broadford Bridge in West Sussex and 1 at Pease Pottage services

UKOG warning

UKOG’s web statement said:

“If you have taken part in direct action against UKOG’s activities at either its Horse Hill or Broadford Bridge sites then you may have been identified as an additional defendant and a court order may be made against you. You should consider the documentation, including a photographic schedule, carefully.”

The company said:

“UKOG will, in appropriate cases, offer terms that will provide protection against adverse costs orders in return for undertakings not to engage in certain unlawful activities going forward.”

Asked by DrillOrDrop what the unlawful acts comprised, UKOG said:

  • Entering or remaining on the Horse Hill site Surrey or Broadford Bridge site in West Sussex
  • Blocking the public highway with the effect of slowing down or stopping traffic with the intention of causing inconvenience and delay
  • Walking in front of vehicles driven by a servant of UKOG or its contractors
  • Climbing onto vehicles
  • Obstructing the highway at site entrances

A company spokesperson said:

“The above activities are unlawful in that they constitute an unlawful interference with the claimants’ activities at its Horse Hill and Broadford Bridge sites. They are also currently prohibited by the interim injunction order.”

Asked what would happen if people gave an undertaking but did not follow it, the spokesperson said:

“An undertaking is a promise made by one party to the court. It has the same effect as a court order and there may be serious consequences if breached.  An undertaking is not an admission of liability, it is simply a promise to the court not to behave in a certain way in the future.”

Canada Goose and UKOG trial

The High Court refused Canada Goose’s request for a “persons unknown” injunction against animal rights protesters in November 2019. An appeal was rejected earlier this month.

In the light of the High Court judgement in Canada Goose, UKOG said it was directed to make an application to add additional defendants.

A hearing is now scheduled to add the new names and descriptions on 2 April 2020 before Chief Master Marsh.

DrillOrDrop asked UKOG about the impact of coronavirus on the court hearing. A company spokesperson said:

“This is a matter that is out of our hands. We have absolutely no idea what the court will do, but whatever the courts do decide to do, we will abide by it. I am sure that HM Courts and Tribunals Service is, as we speak, preparing contingency plans, but all we can do is to take each day as it comes.”

The spokesperson said UKOG had served people on the list by Facebook, Twitter, hand-delivered copies, a press release and online storage service – all permitted by the court.

UKOG’s current interim injunction is due to go to a trial late this year or early in 2021 to decide whether it should be made permanent.

That hearing is listed for 10 days but it may have to be longer if large numbers of extra defendants are added to the case. Asked how the court would deal with the unnamed defendants, the spokesperson said:

“The latest legal authorities advise claimants to identify all defendants to be bound by a final injunction order. This includes incidents committed prior to the date of the interim injunction. It will be for the court to decide whether those individuals should be identified in a final injunction order.

“We do not yet know how the court will deal with those on the list who are unnamed as there is no established authority by the courts. However, the claimants are following the latest guidance set by the Court of Appeal and it will be for the trial judge in this case to decide how those individuals are to be dealt with.”

10 replies »

  1. Apologies to Ruth and Paul for the copy and paste, but this attempt at targeting “persons unknown” is quite insane, even by UKOG standards, or rather their apparent lack of standards:

    “Of the 116 new people on the list:

    76 were identified or described from images taken on a single date: 20 August 2018
    112 were identified or described from images taken before Mr Justice Male granted UKOG’s interim injunction on 3 September 2018.
    11 were identified from images for which there was no precise date
    3 were listed based on images taken in 2014
    112 were identified from images taken at Horse Hill in Surrey, 4 from Broadford Bridge in West Sussex and 1 at Pease Pottage services”

    Isnt it up to UKOG to prove these vague descriptions to be real people? How do we know that these images and descriptions are not photo-shopped images or CGI manufactured fake images?

    To make it even more bizarre, is that many of these “persons unknown” by photo, social media or word of mouth, may even be UKOG personnel acting the part, or perhaps UKOG hired agent provocateurs acting as the intended targets put there deliberately to appear to be protesters acting against their own interests. it wouldn’t be the first time that agent provocateurs have been used to discredit dissenters here and abroad. Wasn’t there a case recently, where an undercover policeman was exposed to have had a long term sexual relationship with a female activist? How many of these images are of “undercover”, i use the word advisedly, policemen and women or UKOG men and women?

    Also, isnt it illegal to persecute people by description of hair type or colour, or skin colour, or ethnic background or social grouping, or political or ideological identity, or by age, or by disability, or by personal likes or dislikes.

    It was Donald Rumsfelt who said:

    “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”

    It seems UKOG has utterly failed to see the irony in Donald Rumsfelt’s words regarding this move to wave that cure all “injunction” at loose descriptions of anyone, and quite insanely has gone straight for the “unknown unknowns” and tried to squeeze that into an injunction.

    Besides, it looks like self isolation and social distancing has beaten UKOG to it. At best UKOG are demonstrably slow off the mark in the face of recent events. At worst UKOG have proved themselves to be inadequately prepared for reality, we see a lot of that recently.

    Perhaps its time we developed a “heard and laughed at immunity” to such UKOG nonsense as this and we can wash our hands thoroughly whilst singing “Happy Mirth-day to UKOG” twice….

    I did enjoy that!

    Have a nice day self isolating or working at home indoors tomorrow.

  2. Welcome back to DOD PhilC. Thanks you for the Covid-19 post – odd place for it….I would assume that people who read DOD have the internet and common sense to keep up with Covid-19 and take the necessary precautions. I must admit that if I see you post a link I don’t read it – wolf in sheep’s clothing etc. I see you have reverted to form with the post above – fair enough.

    Keep safe and keep your loved ones safe. Covid-19 is very serious and all this other stuff on DOD is irrelevant. If you want to kill the oil industry just ask the Russians and the Saudis to disagree about production cuts.

    Germany has just banned gatherings of more than two. We will no doubt do the same shortly – as you have pointed out the UKOG comments are pointless – at least for several months.

    DOD will have very little to write about for the forseeable future.

    • Thanks Paul, but no, it’s not an odd place at all for a post on the Covid-16 pandemic, the situation is dire and unprecedented for everyone, regardless of where we find ourselves on the oil and gas issues.

      Of course i wish you and your loved ones health and safety also.

      I’m not at all surprised that you self censor Paul, but I can assure you that there is nothing to be scared of regarding anything I post. There are no wolves or sheep regardless of relative configuration to trigger such a fear response. And how would you know either way if you don’t look at them? It’s your prerogative as to what you do or don’t look at of course, however ignoring a red warning light tends to have its own consequences as can be only too easily demonstrated recently.

      It appears that both Boris and Donald acted with that same dismissive initial response to the warnings from China. Now we are deep in our own developing pandemic here too. If only they had acted decisively sooner and more intelligently, then we might not be in such a disastrous situation in the UK.

      Dr. John Campbell is a retired doctor and he only serves to explain what your GP would say if he/she had the time or inclination to do so. Fortunately I have no such reservations regarding subject matter, after all I read your posts too?

      Yes, UKOG have only served to discredit themselves with this innaprporopriate and poorly conceived effort to create injunctions on mere appearance or assumed identity.

      The newly conceived Coronavirus bill is being read today in parliament, it seeks to create the most Draconian powers that any government in Great Britain has yet sought in peacetime. The requested time period is 2.5 years during which this government can impose total power and Martial Law over every aspect of public and business life. The bill allows military enforcment, safe distancing, isolation, forced testing, and inoculation, arrest and subject to fines for merely walking the dog without permission.

      The “sunset clause” by which the ending of the Draconian powers are defined has enough exclusions to make the bill actionable in perpetuity and can be re-initiated at any time for any perceived threat, regardless of how or by whom it is assesed.

      I suggest you contact your MP to request a restriction of three months, and remove the long list of exclusions from the sunset clause of the Coronavirus bill. Or Martial Law will be permanent police state.

      Welcome to the future. Perhaps there are more wolves in sheep’s clothing right there than anything I, or you could post.

  3. Meanwhile, UKOG submit another planning application for IOW. “Pluto” to Hamble?

    So, eldest son who has the virus and is struggling through and desperate to get back to work in the NHS, to assist in transporting sick patients to treatment in vehicles all running on fossil fuel-but not red diesel. Maybe 20-30 years time might be running on something else, but who will now pay for that development?

    Youngest son still busy building houses but worried that may be short lived, if some supplies-mainly plastic-dry up.

    Whilst around me, many “self isolating” believe it is a great time to light their bonfires, and the Council don’t believe clean air is worth controlling at this time, as they are too busy producing their glossy leaflets around preventing anti social activity! Local democracy?

    Yep. Bring on Martial Law.

    And then, UKOG, adjust their process to keep up with changes in law. Hmm, suspect they have to do the same for other considerations.

    Positively Gold Standard.

  4. UKOG have an interim injunction based on an Ineos injunction which has been stripped of it’s restrictions on lorry surfing, slow walking, lock-ons and now only covers trespass on the well site, so UKOG’s copy cat injunction should go the same way, if it doesn’t get thrown out completely.

    Lawyers for the Weald Action Group, backed by Surrey and Sussex residents, have also argued that persons unknown injunctions are unlawful, which has forced UKOG into naming the people they want the injunction to apply to. They have presented a list of people, the vast majority of whom that have attended past demonstrations where absolutely nothing criminal took place, yet they claim they are not trying to hamper legal protest.

    People are being added for standing by a roadside, and UKOG don’t even have their names, good luck with making that stick.

  5. Well, Dorkinian, based upon previous, that is hope over experience!!

    I think DoD have done a pretty good job providing UKOG with any gaps in evidence that were in need of filling.

    And with FOE (apt) joining in, the result is beyond doubt.

    • UKOG have no idea who the people are and have had to resort to guesswork, they have wrongly named several of them, perhaps those who have been wrongly named should sue UKOG? But I imagine they wouldn’t have the cash to settle after paying out all the court costs. How is the share price doing ?

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