Ten cleared over Lancashire anti-fracking protest

Greenpeace supporters celebrate their court victory Image copyright Greenpeace
Image caption The protesters were cleared after the judge agreed they had been sitting "calmly and peacefully".

Ten Greenpeace protesters involved in an anti-fracking protest have been cleared of obstructing a highway.

The group of five men and five women sat on the ground in front of shale gas firm Cuadrilla's test site at Little Plumpton, Lancashire, on 3 May.

All ten denied the charge when they appeared at Blackpool Magistrates' Court.

District judge Jeff Brailsford found the group not guilty after hearing they had been sitting calmly and peacefully.

He said the defendants held "genuine beliefs and are entitled to express those beliefs".

They had a "lawful excuse" for their protest but his decision did not "set a precedent" for other cases, he added.

Image copyright Greenpeace
Image caption The judge said the group held 'genuine beliefs'

The court was told the members of the group sat in pairs with their arms locked within a square block for eight hours on Preston New Road.

They failed to stop 11 lorries leaving the site.

Lancashire Police removed two of the protesters in the afternoon while a short time later the others released themselves.

The defendants included a retired midwife, a supported housing manager, a trainee yoga teacher, a business analyst, a retired soldier, a mechanic and a film costume designer.

They were:

  • James Biggs, 30, of Canning Street, Liverpool
  • Peter Chan, 48, of Waverley Road, Reading
  • Helen Dryden, 47, of Calveley Walk, Standish
  • Jane Hayes, 58, of Langdale End, Scarborough
  • Hamish Haynes, 43, of Quarry Clough, Tameside
  • Abigail Mortimer, 30, of Lorne Road, Haringey, London;
  • Jeffrey Rice, 50, of Boulton Close, Chesterfield
  • Elizabeth Stanton, 54, of Grafton Street, Preston
  • Gillian Wood, 50, of Regent Road, Blackpool
  • Barrie Broadley, 49, of Ipswich Road, Norwich

Ms Wood said: "This was a peaceful protest and our voice was heard."

It was the largest trial of its type since protests began at the site.

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