Ineos Injunction Against UK Protesters Upheld (Update from Ineos)
The High Court in London November 23 upheld Ineos’s injunction against anti-fracking protesters, following a three-day hearing last month.
Leigh Day, one of two law firms representing protesters seeking to overturn the July 2017 injunction, said it will have a "chilling effect" on people's right to protest generally.
Ineos, a global chemicals manufacturer, also has shale gas exploration licences covering more than 1.2m acres across northern England and the northeast English Midlands where it plans to drill and frack.
Joe Boyd, a campaigner represented by Leigh Day, has been given 14 days to file a request for permission to appeal against this judgement. He said: “Removal of the harassment aspect of the injunction is an important victory for us; but the rest of the injunction cannot be left unchallenged and we will be filing an application for permission to appeal." Many protesters have engaged in slow-walking ahead of company vehicles or facilities. The judge in this ruling, Paul Morgan, determined that this walking was “at an unnaturally slow pace” and was analogous to standing still which, he said, would be deemed an obstruction of the highway by most courts. Leigh Day says an arrest for breach of this injunction can result in a prison sentence of up to two years and/or a fine up to £5,000 ($6,655).
Ineos later said it had sought and defended the injunction because of its duty to ensure the safety of its people and operations. Ineos Shale operations director Tom Pickering remarked: "We safety-train our people to avoid the very hazards hardcore activists naively expose themselves to. Walking in front of a lorry whose driver cannot see you is dangerous. Locking yourself to heavy machinery is dangerous."
The company said it was pleased that the High Court renewed injunctions protecting its people sites and supply chain.
It again accused some activists of physical threats to its staff, including death threats via social media. Pickering added: “These threats are vile, abusive and frightening. They demonstrate the sort of people we are facing.”