Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?
Alexander Pope’s line was borrowed back in the 60s in the Times newspaper (when it still had a decent reputation) to ridicule the prosecution and imprisonment of Mick Jagger for possession of Italian pep pills (benzedrine).
In 2016 the line resonates with those of us who are aghast to see fracking company Cuadrilla pursuing a vendetta against a local grandmother who stood up to be counted when a name was required for a legal case relating to costs for the “eviction” relating to the already terminated occupation of a field at Preston New Road.
Here is how the occupation and subsequent eviction have been described to us:
On the first day of the occupation the police and the landowner were informed that the occupation would last for three weeks and that the field would be vacated on 26th August. On the day the occupiers left, they completed a fingertip-search of the field, filmed this and their departure and delivered a note to the land owner explaining that they were gone and all was tidy. They informed the press and police as well.
Cuadrilla (through the landowner) “evicted” the clean, empty field on 27th August 2014. The occupiers found themselves in court on the 28th.
It was made clear that if no-one stepped forward to say they would be the ‘named defendant’ – that proceedings would go ahead without the active involvement of the occupiers or possibly by selecting from video footage. Tina Rothery, a woman of great courage and integrity in our opinion, put her name forward.
They went back to court in October where the costs for the “eviction” that never was were set at over £60,000 and an injunction put in place to prevent access to the site.
As can be seen from the above there appears to have been no necessity for the eviction, and the level of costs being sought are absolutely staggering. It is hard to imagine that this is not a stage managed attempt to ensure that protesters against fracking are scared off by fear of litigation – It sounds horribly like what is called a SLAPP case – Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation. Chevron tried it in Poland but it didn’t ultimately work out very well for them. Fracking companies have tried it in the US too.
We firmly believe that this persecution of Ms Rothery is ill advised and ill-judged. In spite of having spent tens of thousands of pounds on trying to buy public support by sponsoring rugby teams and funding theatre bars, Cuadrilla have notably failed to gain any grass roots support in the Fylde. Indeed their principal “supporters” group on Facebook only has 302 likes, most of whom from people who seem to either work in the industry or live elsewhere. We can think of nothing that will damage their reputation (and their chances of getting that elusive social licence to operate) more than getting a local grandmother committed to prison for 2 weeks just before Christmas. (Well, before they start drilling again that is obviously).
It should be noted that the case is not being brought by Cuadrilla themselves directly, but by the landowner of the field. It has been suggested elsewhere that Cuadrilla are funding the case, but if this is not true we will happily make that clear here on request.
If the litigants have any common sense at all this case will be quietly dropped before Friday. If not then they can expect a deluge of unfavourable press coverage of the demonstration that is planned to highlight this, and any local companies associated with them are going to have their reputations tarred with the same brush. This may give local supermarket Booths, for example, something to think about.
If you too feel that what is going on here is beyond the pale then join us at the Flag Market in Preston at 10:30 on Friday. Sometimes you have to raise your head above the parapet. This is one of them.
Facebook Event Details here https://www.facebook.com/events/1860818844147422/
We are delighted to see that the ever more ludicrous Backing Fracking devours everything we write :
However, we think that Mad Rev, Lee or whoever has the account today, needs to learn the difference between an accurate observation and an incitement to take action. As to being lectured on my moral compass by Backing Fracking. LOL. Just LOL. We’ll be seeing vicars condoning theft next. Oh hang on – The Reverend Michael Roberts of Backing fracking already has hasn’t he?
We also note that he doesn’t seem to have a very good grasp of the facts of the case. In his Facebook Rant Mr Backing Fracking (he prefers anonymity it seems) take issue with the description of the case that I presented:
And he also doesn’t explain that it is neither the landowner or Cuadrilla that is pursuing Tina for these costs, it is the High Court that issued a costs order against her and is now chasing her for its money.
Funny that isn’t it? Can he really be that absent minded or is he simply lying?
It seems that our factually-challenged shill is under the misapprehension that the £50,000 relates to court costs and not to the costs being sought by Cuadrilla and their friends. As Ruth Hayhurst reports on Drill or Drop
In August 2014, Cuadrilla took legal action to evict anti-fracking campaigners camping in a field near a site at Little Plumpton where it had applied for permission to frack.
Cuadrilla argued that the occupation had caused disruption and distress to the farmer’s family and his business.
The company also sought an injunction on behalf of a group of landowners to prevent members of national and local anti-fracking groups from entering land throughout the Fylde.
Ms Rothery asked for an adjournment to allow campaigners to challenge the injunction. At the next hearing, when the injunction was granted unopposed, part of Cuadrilla’s legal costs were awarded against her as the only named defendant. Since then, interest has been added at 8%. The current total is £55,342.37
The costs being sought here then are clearly Cuadrilla’s legal costs (which also puts to bed the question about who is funding this vindictive exercise). In no way can this be seen to be the court’s money as Backing Fracking ridiculously suggests. So I am neither absent-minded or lying – I am just reporting what I believe to be the facts. Maybe Backing Fracking should try that once in a while?
My favourite part of Backing Fracking’s response though is this comment
Given that “Jim Georges” (note the lack of profile image – anonymity on social media seems to be de rigeur for the frackers) only ever posts on 2 pages, both of which have blocked me as they don’t like their views to be questioned, I am at a bit of a loss as to how he thinks he can have caught me out in any lies. Of course we know “Jim Fake Facebook Profile Georges” to be the same person whose crass statements I regularly expose when he posts elsewhere on social media as Bard Welsh, Brad Welsh, Hballpennyahoo and several other IDs. I guess that that statement must be an admission that he uses all these other social media IDs then? Anyway, we can see from the above who is in fact lying, can’t we?