A judge has today acquitted 10 Greenpeace activists involved in an anti-fracking protest in Lancashire.
The defendants and supporters in the court public gallery greeted the decision with a round of applause.
It was the largest trial of its type since anti-fracking protests began earlier this year and marked the the biggest mass not guilty finding.
The 10 “locked-on”outside the Cuadrilla shale gas exploration site at Preston new Road near Blackpool for eight hours in May this year.
Even when they were each given a police warning they refused to stop their action, District Judge Jeff Brailsford heard.
They were later all charged with wilfully obstruction the A583-which runs alongside the drilling base. Blackpool Magistrates' Court heard, however, the protest failed to stop 11 HGVs leaving the site.
The judge said:”I have to consider, location, duration, interference with the rights of others and overall reasonableness. If the Crown cannot show that these defendants were unreasonable then they will fail in their attempt to secure convictions.
“There was in fact no disruption to traffic on the A583 and vehicles were able with little apparent difficulty to exit the Cuadrilla site.
“Therefore, I say again this decision is on its own facts and has nothing to do with fracking or the decision of our elected Government.
“I am of the view that the defendants have Aruised and established lawful excuse to the extent that it would fall to the prosecution to rebut this.The prosecution has not, on the evidence,shown to my satisfaction that the defendants have been unreasonable.”
The defendants were James Biggs, 30, of Canning Street,Liverpool; Peter Chan, 48, of Waverley Road,Reading; Helen Dryden, 47, of Calveley Walk,Standish,Wigan; Jane Hayes, 58, of Langdale End,Scarborough; Hamish Hyanes, 43, of Quarry Clough,Tameside,Manchesster; Abigail Mortimer, 30, of Lorne Road, Haringey,London; Jeffrey Rice, 50, of Boulton Close, Chesterfield;Elizabeth Stanton, 54, of Grafton Street,Preston; Gillian Wood, 50, of Regent Road,Blackpool;Barrie Broadley, 49, of Ipswich Road, Norwich.
They all denied wilfully obstructing the highway outside the Cuadrilla gas exploration site at Little Plumpton during an anti fracking demonstration in May this year.