Tina Rothery released this statement before a court hearing in Preston for Contempt of Court on 9 December 2016
My contempt is not for the courts or law but for companies like Cuadrilla who are misusing our legal system; this case is clearly about punishment and making an example in order to deter opposition. Cuadrilla’s use of huge financial advantage and expertise is what has led to my being in court and I have neither the money nor the knowledge to know how to fight this situation.
I have acted solely with the motive of protecting my young and alerting my community to the dangers I know fracking will bring. I caused no harm or damage at any time and there was no physical eviction as we had already left the field on the date we had clearly stated we would. The costs this case is about are purely legal fees alone as the field was fingertip searched (we filmed this) as we left.
The original court case was within days of us leaving the field and even with an adjournment and some legal help, I was out of my depth in this arena and remain confused about the outcomes.
I hope you [the judge] will consider the following points in my case and bear with my amateur presentation both here and in our upcoming court case – this is all unknown and I am doing my best.
I tried to co-operate: During the court case, I did make an offer to pay what I felt I could afford which was £500 but this was rejected by Cuadrilla’s lawyers. I was only earning £130 per week as a waitress.
Why I am not co-operating with the demand for money now
Because I believe that this is unfair and unjust. I also think that it is important that our legal system is not used inappropriately. Even though the previous judge advised that these costs not go against me as the single named defendant, this case is still being pursued with what feels like vindictiveness and intimidation; even though the Claimants clearly realise I will not be paying this.
What were they seeking to achieve when they rejected my offer of £500? They had the injunction and the land possession so what could they possibly gain by pursuing me for payment? And I was pursued; papers were served on three occasions at public events, in different counties and on one occasion, by a man in a clearly visible stab vest. I would love to know who instructed that this happen this way and with what reasoning. They had my address, my email and my phone number yet they found me by checking my Facebook events pages.
The Claimants (all backed by Cuadrilla) are able to use financial advantage to access our legal system and misuse it as a tool to silence opposition to an industry that a community is trying to halt due to serious, founded concerns for our health and wellbeing. To agree to engage with the demand for payment or to be bankrupted in order to avoid it, would be to acknowledge that there is justice in this process and I don’t see this as the case.
Why did I put my name forward?
Cuadrilla’s lawyers, representing them and the landowner attended the court case armed with documents with allegations about the death of a cow amongst other inaccuracies about criminal behaviour as well as a lot of images of people from our community who visited the field; My deep concern that led me to putting my name forward was based on being told that if the case went ahead without a named defendant – it would be uncontested. I feared that lies would be told and the truth could not be defended and this could lead to further implications in the future for those people in the images that were presented to court.
Having watched the behaviour of Cuadrilla over a long period now (over five years), I have no cause to trust that they will respect truth. Their promises of exemplary behaviour, their claims of eagerness to act within regulations and be a good neighbour to communities, flies in the face of planning breaches, withheld information (earthquake responsibility not alerted till 6 months after) and their treatment of opposition.
This is about Contempt of Court, not the activism
At the start of the original court case, it was the Landowner who took the primary role although he didn’t speak; Cuadrilla did not admit till later that they were behind the proceedings and it was not the Landowner who bore the costs at all. For the case before you, Cuadrilla were contacted by media and again are trying to take a back seat. They say this Contempt of Court part is nothing to do with them but clearly, I would not be in this position if it weren’t for the danger their industry poses. I did not choose to be an activist, I am fulfilling an obligation as a parent and grandparent to safeguard the future for those I’m responsible for and alerting others to the risks. IF Cuadrilla agree not to press for these costs, I would not need to be seen as being in Contempt of Court.
I am a law-abiding person who until 2011 had not even heard of this industry and would never have imagined I would have to do the things I’ve done just to have the truth heard. I tried ALL lawful means available to oppose this industry; from signing petitions, to writing to the Queen and everything in-between. I don’t know how to do this but I do know that I cannot sit back and let this industry come into our lives and cause harm.