Demonstrators had ‘faces full of hate’

Anti-fracking protesters outside the Chambers of Commerce building last August .
Anti-fracking protesters outside the Chambers of Commerce building last August .

Anti-fracking campaigners who are alleged to have pushed their way into a building had “faces full of hatred” according to a witness.

A nuclear scientist has denied taking a lead role in the protest at the HQ of North and Western Lancashire Chambers of Commerce.

“The Chamber of Commerce were aware the protest was going to take place and one member of staff, Hugh Evans, went into work on his day off at 6am.”

It is alleged by a prosecution witness that Dr Rowland Dye was one of 12 who pushed their way into a building.

Dr Dye, 62, appeared before District Judge Philip Houlden sitting at Blackpool Magistrates Court.

Dye, of City Road, Bristol , denies trespassing at the offices also used by fracking company Cuadrilla forcing staff to leave the building at Lockheed Court on Blackpool Business Park.

Karen Saffma, prosecuting, told the judge that 80 people who object to the gas drilling system known as fracking gathered at the building which is also used by the Chamber of Commerce.

She said: “About 12 protesters got inside and they padlocked the door on the inside and placed a sofa against the door.

“The Chamber of Commerce were aware the protest was going to take place and one member of staff, Hugh Evans, went into work on his day off at 6am.”

Mr Evans, deputy chief executive of the Chamber, told the hearing: “I arrived at 6 am because we had been made aware of a day of action being planned for that day.

“The building is a conference and training centre. We are on the ground floor and Cuadrilla are on the first floor as tenants.

“At about 11am on August 18 four to five people arrived and used step-ladders to put a banner up about Cuadrilla.”

“I took it down and took it inside.

“We had called the police.Two people had inquired about membership for the Chamber but we turned them away. They came back later.

“We had kept the outer door locked. But we opened it slightly and they appeared to know a lot about the work of the Chamber. Some signal must have been given and 10 to 12 people rushed into the building and forced their way in.

“They were dressed in jeans, T-shirts and some had ‘Frack Free Lancashire’ shirts on.

“They pushed their way in and we were fearful about what might happen.

“We were fearful for our safety and we went out to the car park and we rang the police.

“There was a colleague still in the building.I rang him and told him to get out.

“The protestors had faces full of hatred.”

Dr Dye studied for a Physics degree at Birmingham University in the 1970s.

He then progressed to a Masters in Radiation Biology before obtaining a doctorate in Medical Physics. He worked for a number of years in the NHS before moving to a teaching career in Technology.

(Proceeding)