"It appears to me that if we are not to seek to defend the right to peaceful protest and right to freedom of speech, it places us all in a world not far removed from a dictatorship..." Simon Pook
Today, the Liverpool High Court overruled a decision made at Manchester Magistrates Court, which means that a report by experts into contamination of land above the IGas exploratory drilling site at Barton Moss can be used as evidence by defendants charged in relation to anti-fracking protests.
If experts can prove that there was contamination and IGas is guilty of criminal damage to the land, then the defence of those charged with offences intended to stop the company from proceeding with its activities is strengthened.
A judgement could also have huge consequences for the expected fracking planning application to be put to Salford City Council later this year, while huge numbers of cases which haven't already been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service will probably collapse.
The experts' report could be dynamite. And its contents will be revealed during the next protector's case that comes to court, possibly this week.
"It was our position that it was right and necessary to seek a Judicial Review on the ruling made in Manchester Magistrates Court" says Simon Pook of Robert Lizar Solicitors, which is handling most of the protectors' cases.
"Our clients are all charged with aggravated trespass" he adds "Under s68 CJPOA the core is whether the activity is lawful. Our clients maintain that the activity is not lawful because it causes contamination that may amount to criminal damage.
"They rely on the recent case of Richardson" he explains "If the activity on the land has at its core a criminal activity this may be a defence. In order to support this argument we (Robert Lizar's) obtained a report from our expert to consider, amongst other things, contamination."
Simon Pook, who has already called for an Independent Inquiry into the policing at Barton Moss, and is compiling a dossier on the policing for the United Nations, is once again scathing of the authorities attitudes and actions towards the Salford anti-fracking protests…
"It appears to me that if we are not to seek to defend the right to peaceful protest and right to freedom of speech, it places us all in a world not far removed from a dictatorship" he says "I will always seek to defend my clients' right and hold the state to account for the actions of those who act on their behalf."
See also previous Salford Star articles…
* Ecocide Lawyers and Experts Visit Barton Moss – click here
• 29 Barton Moss Anti-fracking Cases Discontinued as Solicitor Slams GMP – click here
Photos by Steven Speed
Main photo shows expert gathering contamination evidence at Barton Moss under the watchful eye of Simon Pook