Correspondence from Paul Ridge, Bindmans, to Julie Dilcock, Eversheds (Cuadrilla’s lawyers)
As you know and has already [been] explained Ms Rothery has no means of paying the legal fees your client seeks. She is utterly unable to do so and has always been unable to do so. The steps now being taken to seek payment have been started by your client and it would be possible for them to stop the action by confirming that they no longer seek costs from Ms Rothery and regard this matter as at an end.
Plainly the court will not want to engage in pointless further examination of matters if the claimant is no longer seeking ancient legal costs and views the matter as concluded.
Given that the purpose behind Cuadrilla’s application was to obtain an injunction against a large number of people (it was a persons unknown injunction against potentially hundreds of thousands of people) it appears oppressive to continue to pursue Ms Rothery (and Ms Rothery only) not least when it has already been confirmed to you that she has no funds and nothing whatsoever can be gained by your client. It is hard to see why this enforcement action was started by Cuadrilla (at some expense) and is continuing. In my experience this is out of line with other companies that seek injunctions against protestors. I have never seen a company behave as aggressively and for such a sustained period towards a single protestor on the matter of costs as in this case by Cuadrilla. It is made all the more oppressive when they know that there is nothing to be gained.
It is not correct to suggest that this is simply a matter for the court. I have no doubt that the court would not continue to seek information if your client confirmed that they regarded the matter as closed and the debt was no longer being sought from Ms Rothery.
I invite your client to confirm this in order to draw this matter to a conclusion.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Correspondence from Julie Dilcock, Eversheds to Paul Ridge, Bindmans
Thank you for your email below, which I assume is a somewhat belated response to my email of 5 July and has been prompted by Ms Rothery’s appointment with the Court on Friday.
I am afraid that your email below does not accurately portray the process in which Ms Rothery is currently involved and Ms Rothery has herself persisted in inaccurately portraying the process. As I have explained previously, Ms Rothery was ordered to attend Court to complete a questionnaire about her financial means pursuant to CPR 71. Ms Rothery attended Court, but refused to comply with the Court’s order to provide information. That refusal was contempt of Court and the process by which the Court deals with such contempt is set down by CPR 71. You will note that pursuant to CPR 71, once a debtor has failed to comply with the Court’s order the matter is in the hands of the Court.
In accordance with CPR 71, the Court made a suspended committal order in respect of Ms Rothery’s contempt. The suspended element means that Ms Rothery has been given a further opportunity to comply with the order that the Court made: namely to answer the Court’s questions about her means. Given the content of your email below (and indeed your previous emails – and I have also made this point to you previously), it would appear that Ms Rothery in fact has no objection to providing the information that the Court requires her to provide. At no point has the Court ordered her to confirm that she will or will not in fact pay the costs she was ordered to pay in 2014. To comply with the Court’s order and purge her contempt, all she is required to do is answer the questionnaire.
I would again reiterate that the current process is one laid down by the Court. If Ms Rothery wishes to continue to disobey the Order of the Court and refuse to answer the questions that the Court has ordered her to answer (and which it appears from your correspondence that she has no objection to answering), that is a matter for her and no doubt the Court will deal with her continued contempt in accordance with CPR 71. The Court has warned Ms Rothery of the consequences of her refusal to answer the Court’s questions and I have no doubt that the District Judge will again issue that warning to her on Friday.
I trust that the above makes matters absolutely clear and that you will explain any aspects that Ms Rothery is unclear about to her (as I have also previously endeavoured to do). My client is aware that Ms Rothery has been attempting to make misleading statements to the media about this process and has been contacted by the media. My client has provided the above information to the media in response and I trust that Ms Rothery will refrain from making further misleading statements regarding this matter.
Open Letter to Francis Egan, Cuadrilla Resources
We are writing to urge you to end Cuadrilla’s legal action against Tina Rothery, a peaceful anti-fracking campaigner facing over £55,000 legal costs and a possible two-week jail sentence following the supposed eviction of campaigners on 27th August 2014 from a site you hope to frack.
The bailiffs in fact ‘evicted’ an empty field. As Cuadrilla, the landowner and the public were made aware, the protesters were always going to leave on 26th August. They did this, having fully cleaned the site after their three-week stay and caused no damage.
In the light of this, the decision to incur large legal costs for eviction and to pursue one individual for these looks like a deliberate strategy to deter other protesters. Tina now faces a potential two-week jail sentence for refusing to comply with the Court Order, which she did because she considers Cuadrilla’s case against her to be unjust, bullying and an abuse of perfectly legitimate campaigners to deter protest. The intention to vacate the site was communicated to Cuadrilla and so there was no need for the action you took.
Tina has shown extraordinary bravery. When this legal action was brought and a named defendant was needed, she volunteered to prevent one of her fellow Lancashire Nanas, perhaps someone caring for children or elderly parents, being victimised.
Tina is an ordinary citizen seeking to exercise her right of protest against an industry which, according to Government opinion polls, is more unpopular than ever because of the risks it poses to our health, to our local and global environment and to our communities.
Lancashire County Council supported local people’s objections and refused Cuadrilla’s application to test-drill, frack and flow-test shale gas wells at two sites. Following an appeal, the Government has decided to overturn one refusal and probably both.
You may have won a legal argument, but, as far as we the undersigned and the people of Lancashire are concerned, you have not won a democratic or moral argument. You may have the permission of the Government to frack in Lancashire, but you do not have the permission of the people of Lancashire. Fracking is being imposed on Lancashire against its will.
You have described the fracking opportunities in the UK as ‘an absolute game-changer’. We agree: fracking could be a game changer — for the climate. According to Oil Change International, potential carbon emissions from oil, gas, and coal in the world’s currently operating fields (without new fracking) and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming, let alone the 1.5°C which the Paris climate agreement requires us to pursue efforts towards. If we cannot afford to burn the gas we currently have, what is the point of looking for more?
We urge you to drop Tina’s case, allow peaceful protest and halt the drilling – for all our futures.
Josh Fox, Filmmaker
Raoul Martinez, Artist, writer, filmmaker
Francesca Martinez, Comedian
Anthony Tombling, Filmmaker
Suzanne Jeffery, Campaign against Climate Change
Donna Hume, Friends of the Earth
John Sauven, Greenpeace
Ellie Groves, Reclaim the Power
Danielle Paffard, 350.org
Nick Dearden, Global Justice Now
Caroline Lucas, Green Party
Jonathan Bartley, Green Party
Natalie Bennett, Green Party
Manuel Cortes, TSSA
Chris Baugh, PCS
Matt Wrack, FBU
Tony Kearns, Communication Workers Union
Ian Hodson, Bakers, Food & Allied Workers union
Graham Petersen, Greener Jobs Alliance