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Natalie Hynde guilty of 'besetting' for anti-fracking superglue protest
5:22pm Monday 24th February 2014 in News
The daughter of musicians Ray Davies and Chrissie Hynde has been found guilty after supergluing herself to a fellow anti-fracking protester outside the main gate of an exploratory oil drilling site.
Natalie Hynde, 31, and Simon Medhurst, 55, were convicted of "besetting" energy firm Cuadrilla's test drilling plant during high-profile protests near Balcombe, West Sussex, last summer.
Brighton Magistrates' Court heard the pair cost the firm around £5,000 through delaying deliveries for two hours after they superglued their hands together while Medhurst had his arm through the gate on July 31 last year.
Prosecutor Jonathan Edwards told the trial that access was hampered and Cuadrilla staff and contractors were prevented from going about their "legal right" to work there.
Hynde said her intention was to gain publicity by creating a "striking and symbolic" image to highlight concerns surrounding the controversial method of extracting natural gas from underground shale rock.
And Medhurst - a veteran of environmental campaigns including Newbury and the Hastings to Bexhill link road - also said the intention was to gain widespread publicity rather than obstructing Cuadrilla employees.
But finding the pair guilty, district judge William Ashworth said their protest "went beyond reasonable freedom of speech" as it disrupted access to the site for two hours.
The district judge told Medhurst and Hynde: "I'm sure that you did beset, in the true meaning of the word, the Cuadrilla site by locking yourselves around the gate and thereby controlling access to the site."
Hynde told the court she took part in the "peaceful, non-violent" direct action around seven days after arriving at the Balcombe site in a bid to galvanise public support against fracking.
Hynde said: "The purpose of it was to create an image in the media that would be striking and symbolic of the lock-the-gate process, and raise the profile of fracking."
Hynde said it was not their intention to obstruct access to the site. "However, if it did, then great," she said. "That wasn't the intention.
"I didn't think that it would be possible for two people to delay in any meaningful way. It was for a snapshot, and hopefully get more interviews after that."
Under cross-examination from Mr Edwards, Hynde was asked whether, due to her famous parents, she would have gained just as much media exposure without supergluing herself to Medhurst.
Confirming to the court who her parents are, Hynde went on: "If you are saying that holding a placard is enough, then it isn't. I have done those things and I wanted to take it one step further."
Hynde, of Paynton Road, St Leonards and Medhurst, of High Street, Hastings, had both denied a charge of "besetting" the premises.
But after being convicted, Hynde also pleaded guilty to trespassing on a railway bridge at Balcombe on August 18 last year.
Hynde, a King's College, London, English Literature graduate, was given a concurrent 12-month conditional discharge, and ordered to pay costs of
£400 and a £15 victim surcharge.
Medhurst, who has three previous convictions, was fined £200, and told to pay costs of £200 and a victim surcharge cost of £20.
The pair stood trial alongside three other defendants - Robert Basto, 65, of Blackborough Road, Reigate, Surrey, Jamie Spiers, 29, of no fixed address, and Nichola Sanger, 44, of Auckland Road East, Southsea, Hampshire, who also denied charges relating to the Balcombe protest.
Basto was convicted of obstructing the highway and acquitted of obstructing a policeman, Sanger was cleared of besetting the site by blocking its entrance, and Spiers will be dealt with later after he failed to attend court today.
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