Cuadrilla boss urged to drop case against Lancashire fracking ‘Nana’
UPDATE: Tina walks free from court.
The charges for contempt of court have been dropped in a major victory for the anti-fracking movement and the right to peaceful protest
Tina Rothery, Lancashire Nana and anti-fracking campaigner, is being aggressively pursued for legal costs of over £55,000 and the likelihood of a possible two-week prison sentence, thanks to the actions of fracking company, Cuadrilla. Her supporters, including well-known figures such as Emma Thompson, Vivienne Westwood and trade union leaders, as well as NGOs and campaign groups, have today called on Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, to drop the case as completely unjustified. Hundreds are expected to gather outside Preston court on Friday when her case is heard, under the banner #IamTinaToo.
Paul Ridge of Bindmans solicitors said: “I have never seen a company behave as aggressively and for such a sustained period towards a single protestor on the matter of costs as in this case by Cuadrilla.”
Dear Mr Egan
We are writing to urge you to end Cuadrilla’s legal action against Tina Rothery, a peaceful anti-fracking campaigner facing over £55,000 legal costs and a possible two-week jail sentence following the supposed eviction of campaigners on 27th August 2014 from a site you hope to frack.
The bailiffs in fact 'evicted' an empty field. As Cuadrilla, the landowner and the public were made aware, the protesters were always going to leave on 26th August. They did this, having fully cleaned the site after their three-week stay and caused no damage.
In the light of this, the decision to incur large legal costs for eviction and to pursue one individual for these looks like a deliberate strategy to deter other protesters. Tina now faces a potential two-week jail sentence for refusing to comply with the Court Order, which she did because she considers Cuadrilla’s case against her to be unjust, bullying and an abuse of perfectly legitimate campaigners to deter protest. The intention to vacate the site was communicated to Cuadrilla and so there was no need for the action you took.
Tina has shown extraordinary bravery. When this legal action was brought and a named defendant was needed, she volunteered to prevent one of her fellow Lancashire Nanas, perhaps someone caring for children or elderly parents, being victimised.
Tina is an ordinary citizen seeking to exercise her right of protest against an industry which, according to Government opinion polls, is more unpopular than ever because of the risks it poses to our health, to our local and global environment and to our communities.
Lancashire County Council supported local people's objections and refused Cuadrilla's application to test-drill, frack and flow-test shale gas wells at two sites. Following an appeal, the Government has decided to overturn one refusal and probably both.
You may have won a legal argument, but, as far as we the undersigned and the people of Lancashire are concerned, you have not won a democratic or moral argument. You may have the permission of the Government to frack in Lancashire, but you do not have the permission of the people of Lancashire. Fracking is being imposed on Lancashire against its will.
You have described the fracking opportunities in the UK as 'an absolute game-changer'. We agree: fracking could be a game changer -- for the climate. According to Oil Change International, potential carbon emissions from oil, gas, and coal in the world's currently operating fields (without new fracking) and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming, let alone the 1.5°C which the Paris climate agreement requires us to pursue efforts towards. If we cannot afford to burn the gas we currently have, what is the point of looking for more?
We urge you to drop Tina's case, allow peaceful protest and halt the drilling – for all our futures.
Josh Fox, Filmmaker
Raoul Martinez, Artist, writer, filmmaker
Francesca Martinez, Comedian
Anthony Tombling, Filmmaker
Suzanne Jeffery, Campaign against Climate Change
Donna Hume, Friends of the Earth
John Sauven, Greenpeace
Ellie Groves, Reclaim the Power
Danielle Paffard, 350.org
Nick Dearden, Global Justice Now
Caroline Lucas, Green Party
Jonathan Bartley, Green Party
Natalie Bennett, Green Party
Manuel Cortes, TSSA
Chris Baugh, PCS
Matt Wrack, FBU
Tony Kearns, Communication Workers Union
Ian Hodson, Bakers, Food & Allied Workers union
Graham Petersen, Greener Jobs Alliance
Notes to Editors
1. Tina Rothery’s case will be heard at Preston combined court at 12pm Friday 9th. Facebook event for the #IamTinaToo protest: https://www.facebook.com/events/1860818844147422/
2. In response to the open letter, Cuadrilla have denied that they can pull back from the case at this stage. Tina’s solicitor is clear that this is not the case, as stated in the following extract from communications from Bindmans to Cuadrilla’s lawyers Eversheds:
The steps now being taken to seek payment have been started by your client and it would be possible for them to stop the action by confirming that they no longer seek costs from Ms Rothery and regard this matter as at an end.
Plainly the court will not want to engage in pointless further examination of matters if the claimant is no longer seeking ancient legal costs and views the matter as concluded.
Given that the purpose behind Cuadrilla's application was to obtain an injunction against a large number of people (it was a persons unknown injunction against potentially hundreds of thousands of people) it appears oppressive to continue to pursue Ms Rothery (and Ms Rothery only) not least when it has already been confirmed to you that she has no funds and nothing whatsoever can be gained by your client. It is hard to see why this enforcement action was started by Cuadrilla (at some expense) and is continuing. In my experience this is out of line with other companies that seek injunctions against protestors. I have never seen a company behave as aggressively and for such a sustained period towards a single protestor on the matter of costs as in this case by Cuadrilla. It is made all the more oppressive when they know that there is nothing to be gained.
It is not correct to suggest that this is simply a matter for the court. I have no doubt that the court would not continue to seek information if your client confirmed that they regarded the matter as closed and the debt was no longer being sought from Ms Rothery.
3. Further background on events leading up to the current trial
4. Contact details:
Claire Stephenson, spokesperson for Lancashire anti-fracking Nanas and Tina Rothery firstname.lastname@example.org, 07929 969664
Claire James, Campaign against Climate Change, email@example.com 020 7833 9311 / 07939 654914