Blackpool Magistrates Court told protest was ‘intimidatory’

Blackpool Magistrates' Court
Blackpool Magistrates' Court

The largest trial involving anti-fracking protesters has started.

Eight defendants sat together in the dock at Blackpool Magistrates Court.

They are all alleged to have staged a lock-on protest which prevented people and vehicles leaving and entering the shale gas site run by Cuadrilla. Drilling at the site is due to start later this month.

The eight all deny failing to obey the instructions of a senior police officer under the Public Order Act to leave the site entrance where the eight had chained themselves together and are also have alleged to have chain themselves to the perimeter fence.

The officer in charge of policing on February 2 this year was Insp Andrew Moore who told district Judge Jeff Brailsford he had been in charge of policing the site more than 30 times.

The Inspector said that the anti-fracking campaigners could be split into two factions.

One was made up of locals who would talk to the police and the other faction would not engage with police or say who their organisers were.

He said that on the day of the protest he felt that by being locked on in the entrance to the drilling site the protesters were “intimidatory” and halting people going to and from the site to do their lawful business.

He told the court that after the protesters failed to respond to his order under Section 14 of the Public Order Act to move to the other side of the A583 road he ordered their arrest.

He said he did so after balancing the rights of peaceful protest against the need to facilitate Cuadrilla doing their work.

Specialist officers were then used to cut the anti-frackers from their metal tubes, locks and chains.

Video footage shown to the court showed one of the defendants, 30-year-old John Knox, use a string of expletives to police and strip himself down to the waist.

It showed protesters showing defiance as police went through their legal requirements under the Act.

Vincent YIP ,prosecuting, said there was no compliance by protesters when they were asked to leave the site entrance where they had been for two hours.

Before the court are Stephen Allen,47;Liz Beck, 54; Sally Bowman, 46; Daniel Jones, 29; Ian Kitching, 55; John Knox, 30; and Ellie Stanton, 24, who all gave 
their address as the anti fracking protest camp at Whitehills.

The eighth defendant is Craig Wilson, 41, of Dorset Road, Atherton.

Proceeding