Anti-fracking activists acquitted
Monday 13th November 2017 @ 13:22 by Adam Higgins
News Tameside

Anti-fracking activists with links to Tameside and Glossop have been found not guilty of obstructing the highway.

The ten – that included Hamish Haynes from Stalybridge and Jeff Rice who has links with Glossop – were cleared after a trial at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court.

Martin Porter, from Frack Free Glossop, who described the result as ‘sensational’, said: “The 10 Greenpeace volunteers were arrested at the fracking site run by Cuadrilla Resources at Preston New Road, Blackpool, on May 3 this year.

“Hamish is a keen cyclist and was 2006 British Road Racing champion. He is part of Frack Free Tameside and was involved in the protests against gas test drills at Barton Moss, Salford, in 2013-14.

“In 2016, he helped successfully campaign for a ban on fracking in the Peak District National Park.”

Martin said the activists, who included a retired mid-wife, yoga teacher trainee, a business analyst, retired solider, mechanic and a film costume designer, felt they had to make their objections to fracking heard.

Of Jeff Rice, who lives in Huddersfield, Martin said: “I have known Jeff for years. He’s not a criminal, he’s an ordinary bloke. Jeff isn’t a professional protestor. His day job is selling solar panels.

“He cares about the planet, but doesn’t usually see the need to get arrested to save it. But fracking is different. He felt he had to take a stand.”

Martin added: “Climate change is the real threat. Lancashire County Council said no to fracking. The people of Lancashire said no to fracking. The Mayor of Greater Manchester has said no to fracking.

“It’s the government that is going ahead with this. They should have been the ones in the dock, not Jeff.”

District Judge Jeff Brailsford said: “These defendants hold genuine beliefs and are entitled to express those beliefs. They are, indeed, passionate in support of those beliefs. They are, indeed, passionate in support of those beliefs.

“I am of the view that the defendants have, on the evidence I heard, sufficiently raised and established ‘lawful excuse’. The prosecution has not shown to my satisfaction the defendants to have been overall unreasonable.

“Accordingly the charge is not made out, and I find the defendants not guilty.”


Main picture:

Delight: Frack Free Tameside celebrate the verdict