Jubilant scenes as proceedings against anti fracking gran are dropped

Tina Rothery outside Preston Crown Court

Tina Rothery outside Preston Crown Court

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Hundreds of anti fracking protestors cheered outside Preston Crown Court as a Lancashire gran revealed contempt of court proceedings had been dropped against her.

A private hearing took place at Preston's Combined Court Centre between campaigner Tina Rothery and lawyers - including one from fracking firm Cuadrilla - in the civil court.

Anti-fracking demonstrators in Preston

Anti-fracking demonstrators in Preston

Miss Rothery, from the Lancashire Nanas group, was battling a civil demand for £51,000 in connection with a protest at a proposed drill site and attended court with her sister and other supporters.

It is understood she had failed to answer a legal document about her finances, leading to contempt proceedings in the civil court.

The case, listed as Cuadrilla v Rothery, was dropped just after 2.15pm.

Miss Rothery was sued by landowners, backed by Cuadrilla for costs, following the Reclaim the Power occupation of the site on farmland off Preston New Road near Little Plumpton in August 2014.

Tina Rothery outside Preston Crown Court

Tina Rothery outside Preston Crown Court

The costs occurred after a court hearing in October 2014 when Ms Rothery was named as a defendant when an injunction was placed on the land to prevent any further protests.

She believes the legal action was an ‘abuse of the British legal system and "bullying by rich companies and landowners against ordinary people with a legitimate protest against an industry they fear will damage the environment".

Miss Rothery, who did not pay the costs, had argued the campaigners caused no damage, cleaned up and were not evicted as we had already left.

More than 200 protestors huddled in the rain outside the court, displaying yellow clothes and balloons.

Protesters await the decision

Protesters await the decision

Around 15 more were gathered outside the courtroom with the press.

A Cuadrilla Spokesperson said: "Having previously been found in contempt of Court, Ms Rothery has today attended Court and complied with the Court’s order to provide information as to her financial means, thus purging her contempt.

"She could have easily avoided this situation and avoided yet again wasting court time and taxpayers money. A barrister attended Court on behalf of the Judgment Creditors (Cuadrilla and the landowners) as the Court required him to do so.

"The outstanding costs were awarded against Ms Rothery in October 2014 for wasting court time by failing to submit a defence after asking for a time extension in order to do so, the debt will remain unpaid and we will not pursue costs whilst she clearly has no assets to make any payment.

Tina Rothery outside Preston Crown Court

Tina Rothery outside Preston Crown Court

"The position will be kept under review and revisited should Ms Rothery’s financial circumstances change."