The High Court has reduced the scope of the injunction granted to UK Oil & Gas plc against protests at its exploration sites in Sussex and Surrey.
Previous sections have been removed which prohibited actions against UKOG’s supply chain. Other clauses have gone that prevented campaigners combining together to protest and “gathering and loitering” at the sites at Horse Hill and Broadford Bridge.
Five women from Surrey and Sussex have been challenging the injunction for nearly two years. Last month, UKOG tried unsuccessfully to remove them from the case.
Lorraine Inglis, of the Weald Action Group, which has been supporting the women, said:
“When UKOG first served this injunction it outrageously sought to ban lawful campaigning and protest, so our perseverance is paying off alongside others in similar campaigns.
“The bar on gathering and loitering has had an intimidating effect on peaceful protesters.
“Now this has been removed and once lockdown is over, we can again gather at the Horse Hill site and show the strength of our concern about this method of oil production and the threat it poses to our climate and local environment.”
The women are now aiming to strike out the whole injunction because they say it targets “persons unknown”.
A case at the Court of Appeal last month ruled that companies should not rely solely on protest injunctions against “persons unknown”. The court said they should seek to identify specific people, at least by description, against the injunction is sought.
Ms Inglis said:
“The use of legal proceedings against persons unknown based on the wide and ill-defined tort of conspiracy to injure is not only a clear infringement of the rights to free speech and assembly but is fundamentally unfair.
“The courts have now made that clear and companies must recognise that they cannot seek to use such arbitrary and disproportionate methods to control peaceful protest and subvert due process and fair trial rights”.
- A two-day hearing in July before a High Court judge will decide whether the injunction should be struck out. The women are urging the court to bring forward the hearing.