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Environmental lawyers lodge appeal against INEOS injunction threatening some protesting activity

Environmental activists appeal against injunction granted to fracking company INEOS

Fracking photo

15 February 2018

Lawyers acting on behalf of environmental and human rights campaigners against a major fracking company have lodged an appeal against an injunction which they believe impinges on the right to peaceful protest.

Lawyers acting for environmental activists Joseph Boyd, represented by law firm Leigh Day, and fellow campaigner, Joseph Corré, represented by Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, have lodged an appeal against the interim injunction granted to fracking company INEOS in July last year.  The injunction prevents individuals and campaign groups from being able to engage in certain forms of peaceful, and otherwise lawful, protest activity in relation to fracking, without the immediate threat of arrest and or a fine.

In an unprecedented decision last July, INEOS, a fracking company which has been awarded the most fracking licenses by the UK Government, was granted an injunction against campaigners, which applies not only to eight sites across England, where fracking is planned or under investigation by INEOS, but also to contractors, subcontractors and other entities which make up INEOS’ ‘supply chain’.

Under the terms of the current injunction, persons unknown are forbidden from ‘obstructing, impeding or interfering with the lawful activities’ of INEOS staff and their contractors. This prevents campaigners from engaging in a number of activities which had never previously been ruled to be unlawful. In particular, it contains what is effectively the first ever blanket ban on the tactic of slow-walking, which has long been a legitimate and legal form of peaceful protest.

Anyone who is found to have breached the injunction, including by slow-walking at one of the eight sites or in relation to any of the named contractors, is liable to arrest and a prison sentence of up to two years and/or a fine up to £5,000.

Joseph Boyd said: “The High Court judgment has wide ranging impacts on not only those involved in the campaign against climate change and fossil fuels, but also anyone who wishes to express opposition against any potentially controversial industry. 

“I don’t think that people should be constrained to banner waving and petition signing in order to protect the environment and the health of their families and future generations. I very much hope the Court of Appeal will agree to review the current injunction and properly uphold our right to peacefully protest, a core value in this country’s democratic history.”

Rosa Curling, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, said: “Free speech and a right to peacefully protest is at the heart of any effective democracy. The current injunction, which we are seeking to challenge in the Court of Appeal, has wide-ranging implications that reach far beyond any debate around the environmental damage of fracking. 

“This case represents the right that all of us have to stand up and say that we don’t agree with something without facing the fear of arrest and imprisonment.”

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