Who am I?
My name is Joe. Along with many others up and down the country, I have been involved in strongly opposing the fracking industry for a number of years. A recent Government survey has shown fracking is at its lowest popularity ever with just 13% of the population in favour of it. It is in that context, that INEOS, a large multi-national company involved in fracking, went to court last July and obtained a pre-emptive injunction to try and prevent protests against their activities. I instructed Leigh Day to help me challenge the injunction because I immediately recognised that the injunction represents an unprecedented attack not only on the right to protest against fracking, but on the freedom of peaceful protest and assembly more generally. It seriously curtails the fundamental right to challenge multinational companies’ activities in England and Wales.
Who are INEOS?
INEOS are an offshore, international, petrochemicals company with a widely reported track record in environmental pollution. This major fracking company wants is using the by-products of shale gas for use in its plastic producing petrochemical plants. It is ironic the British Government have announced a ‘War on Plastics’, whilst simultaneously trying to fast-track the agenda of fracker and plastics producer.
What is the case and how can you help?
In July last year, in a secret hearing that was only attended by INEOS’s representatives, INEOS were granted a court order against ‘unknown persons’, pre-emptively preventing them protesting against the company’s activities at a number of sites linked to the company, up and down the country, at corporate headquarters, and in relation to supply companies linked to INEOS.
The unprecedented injunction constitutes a serious attack on the human rights of people wanting to speak out and protest against the devastating risk that fracking poses to our countryside, our families and our health. It exposes people who engage in what would otherwise be lawful protest to serious financial penalties and the risk of imprisonment.
I and my fellow defendant Joe Corré have been fighting the injunction in the High Court. I could not have done it without your invaluable support.
We are now trying to continue the fight to the Court of Appeal - but we need your help.
Please contribute to our crowdfund by making a donation on this site. But equally as important, please share this case page so we can spread the word about INEOS and their attack on the rights of citizens trying to freely protest in the United Kingdom.
At a secret hearing on 27 July 2017, INEOS was granted an unprecedented and pre-emptive interim injunction against “persons unknown” in relation to seven of its proposed fracking sites and its corporate headquarters, and in relation to companies in its ‘supply chain’. The injunction was granted by the High Court at an ex-parte hearing, held in secret, at which only INEOS, and the landowners who lease their land to INEOS, were represented.
Two subsequent hearings have taken place so far in the High Court, one in September and one in October 2017. At those hearings, barristers Heather Williams QC, Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh and Jennifer Robinson argued on my behalf that the injunction breaches Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and that it is having a chilling effect on the legitimate rights of those wishing to challenge the fracking industry. In a judgment handed down on 21 November 2017, the Court disagreed. The interim injunction was upheld – with some modifications, a decision which I am now seeking to appeal in the Court of Appeal.
As far as we are aware, the INEOS injunction is the first in UK court history, which pre-emptively restrains future protest-related activity on the basis of an alleged industry-wide risk to fracking companies, instead of on the basis of an imminent and real risk to a particular person or site. If this approach is left unchallenged, then other broad injunctions preventing protest could be obtained by any fracking company, or indeed any other companies involved in deeply controversial activities, like the fur trade, the arms trade, or animal testing, by reliance on an asserted, generalised fear that they will inevitably be protested against at some juncture. The injunction also strictly prohibits protest strategies that have long been used in this country, including slow-walking, which had in fact previously been facilitated by the police in fracking protests. The potential chilling impact of the injunction on peaceful protest is obvious: the judgment has already been cited to secure criminal convictions for lock-on protests wholly unrelated to INEOS.
If permission is granted, I hope and anticipate that NGOs and other civil society organisations will get involved in support of my appeal – now is the time to get involved, please share this page as widely as possible. The current injunction seriously undermines all of our right to protest effectively and our collective ability as citizens to peacefully challenge the powerful corporations which operate in our societies. If it is allowed to remain in place, I am seriously concerned the injunction will set a precedent which could be used to undermine social movements and the work of NGOs, including those working to protect the environment.
Photo credit with thanks: Oliver Markham
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