A fake Facebook account was allegedly used to send messages to people about changes to the UK Oil & Gas injunction against protests.
The allegation, denied by the company, came this afternoon in a hearing at the High Court.
Five women campaigners had applied to strike out UKOG’s interim injunction which affects oil sites at Horse Hill in Surrey and Broadford Bridge in West Sussex.
At the same time, the company had sought to extend the effects of the injunction to a list of more than 100 new people and block the campaigners from the case.
Stephen Simblet QC, for the women, told the court that a “fake Facebook account in the name of Richard Hill” appeared to have been created to send legal notices to people on the new list. He said:
“This account then disappeared and was untraceable.”
Mr Simblet said:
“We say that is an abuse of process and one of the things that we require is confirmation that this is something that the Claimants [UKOG] have done and that their solicitors have done.
“It would appear that the Claimants have delegated the service [of court documents] to the security firm.”
Asked by Chief Master Matthew Marsh, the court official hearing the case, why this was relevant, Mr Simblet said:
“We are seeking to strike out the injunction on abuse of process.”
Mr Simblet said evidence of the Facebook account would be raised at a future hearing when the two sides would argue their cases.
Timothy Polli QC, for UKOG, did not refer to the Facebook account in his response. DrillOrDrop invited UKOG to comment on the allegations.
Kevin Lee, of UKOG’s solicitors, Hill Dickinson, told us:
“The allegation of abuse of process, made by Stephen Simblet earlier today, is wholly denied and will be dealt with fully in the ongoing court process, the timeframe of which you are aware of.
“You will also be aware that irrespective of this allegation and indeed any other comments or arguments made by Mr Simblet today (or indeed at the hearing last week) the interim injunction remains fully in force.”
Today’s hearing was for Chief Master Marsh to give his ruling on whether the campaigners had a right to participate in the injunction case and pursue their application for it to be quashed.
He said they were parties to the case and were entitled to bring their application to quash the injunction. A future hearing is expected in the summer. More detail in separate DrillOrDrop report