Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has hit back at criticism that her arrest was a publicity stunt.

The Brighton Pavilion MP was held for five hours in Crawley police station following her arrest at the anti-fracking protests in Balcombe.

She and her son were arrested for suspicion of obstructing the highway under section 14 of the Public Order Act, and she has been bailed while the CrownProsecution Service decides whether to charge her or not. A decision is expected to be announced at the end of the month.

Asked whether her arrest was a publicity stunt and pre-planned, Dr Lucas said: “I’ve been to Balcombe several times over the past few weeks, to show support for the villagers, and for other campaigners who are sending a clear message that they oppose this desperate attempt to extract yet more fossil fuel.

“They’re trying to stop a process which would damage efforts to tackle climate change, and which would have consequences for the already waterstressed south east, including Brighton.

The Argus:

“Many constituents have lobbied me to take action against fracking, and I’ve done everything I can to raise it as an issue in Parliament, including securing debates, but the Government is refusing to listen to me, or to the people of Balcombe, 85% of whom oppose fracking.

“Risking arrest isn’t something I did lightly, but there are times when non-violent peaceful direct action can be legitimate.

“I think that’s especially the case when the Government is risking a breach of its global commitments on climate change by seeking the widespread use of shale gas.”

Dr Lucas’ spokesman said she was now away on a family break and will return to office next week. It’s unclear whether her son, who was also arrested at Balcombe for the same offence, is also on the family trip.

When asked for further details on her experience in police custody, her spokesman replied: “It would be potentially prejudicial to the legal process to talk more about Caroline’s experiences before the CPS has announced its decision.”

It’s not the first time Dr Lucas has been on the wrong side of the law. She was arrested in 2007 at a demonstration in Faslane against the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons arsenal.

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