Fracking trial latest: "Cuadrilla staff were abused and intimidated by protesters"

First published in News
Last updated
by , Chief reporter

Cuadrilla staff were “intimidated” and “abused” by anti-fracking demonstrators, a court was told.

Head of security at the firm in Balcome where exploratory drilling was taking place said that his staff were upset by the large demonstrations outside their work place.

Leon Jennings, health, safety, security and environment director for Cuadrilla, said drilling activities were halted during the height of the protests because police advised that the firm was unlikely to get vehicles on and off the site.

He told the trial of MP Caroline Lucas and four other anti-fracking campaigners that even though there was a reduction in Cuadrilla staff, there were 27 security staff on site and police officers who needed to be provided with fresh food and water and toilet facilities, and that deliveries of fresh supplies still needed to be made.

He said he and his staff were subjected to "intimidation" and "scaremongering" by some of the protesters.

Mr Jennings said: "Peaceful protest is a human right and we accept that. As soon as we start to get abuse to staff it's a different situation, and staff were intimidated and upset by that."

Mr Wainwright representing Lucas and co-accused Ruth Potts, said: "You were thoroughly fed-up ... certainly by the end of the operation in September, with the fact there were protests going on outside." "You have exaggerated the behaviour of those protesting because of how you feel about them, haven't you?"

Mr Jennings replied: "Not at all."

The court also heard from Pc Alan Harris, a Sussex Police officer who arrested 39-year-old Potts and Ruth Jarman, 50.

He told the court he had spoken to several protesters and had given them time to discuss whether they were going to move to an area designated by police for protest.

Pc Harris said he explained the offences they might be committing and added that if they did not comply they risked arrest.

He said Potts was arrested and did not say anything as she was escorted away, although video footage showed her saying: "We have not come to a decision yet."

The court also heard Pc Harris's description of Jarman, which was different to her appearance on the police DVD.

Lucas, from Brighton; Jarman, from Hook, Hampshire; Potts, from Totnes, Devon; Josef Dobraszczyk, 22, from Bristol; and Sheila Menon, 42, from north-east London, all deny wilful obstruction of the highway and breaching Section 14 of the Public Order Act.

The trial continues.

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