Anti-fracking campaigner, Joe Corré, has taken his legal case against chemical giant INEOS to the Court of Appeal in the latest twist to the David and Goliath fight to prevent what is being called a ‘draconian, anti-democratic and oppressive’ injunction against environmental protesters.
Corré, the son of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, originally took legal action last September after the multi-billion pound chemical and fracking company was granted what legal experts described as an ‘unprecedented, draconian injunction’ against ‘persons unknown’ from protesting at the company's eight well-sites, offices and supply chain sites.
The temporary pre-emptive order, granted at a private hearing last July with no press or public present, meant that peaceful protesters could be jailed, fined and even have their assets seized, if they breached its terms. The company obtained the legal ban despite not yet having planning permission to frack at any site.
But it was the wide-ranging injunction against ‘persons unknown’ that had most alarmed campaigners and lawyers. At the time, Corré’s campaign group, Talk Fracking, accused INEOS of trying to privatise the law, saying: ‘If this injunction is allowed to stand, it will mean that any corporation can apply for a 'pre-emptive injunction' of this nature to prevent any protest by 'persons unknown' at any site in the future, citing the INEOS injunction as a precedent. This, in effect, could shut down peaceful protest across the UK, or at least make it far more difficult to organise without running the risk of draconian punishment.’
At the court hearing last September it emerged that INEOS had amassed thousands of pages of Facebook posts and tweets as evidence that it faced ‘a real and imminent threat’ of being targeted by unlawful protests.
Now legal papers lodged at the Court of Appeal this month by Corré argue that the ‘learned judge erred in law by permitting a claim for injunctive remedies against 'Persons Unknown', as well as ‘wrongly prohibiting conduct which is lawful’. His legal team also contend that the injunction breached the Court's obligations under the Section 6 of the Human Rights Act and Articles 8, 10, and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
‘By appealing the judge's order I am protecting and defending our fundamental freedoms and rights to self-expression’, says Corré, speaking this week.
‘With this draconian injunction obtained in a secret court hearing INEOS has launched a full frontal assault on our human rights and our rights to protest. It makes aspects of legitimate protest an imprisonable offence as well as terrorising people with the threat of asset seizures.’
He continued: ‘The fact that the injunction is against persons unknown means it is against everyone in the world. This is an extremely dangerous precedent in law because it is clear that people could easily and unwittingly find themselves on the wrong side of the injunction for doing something perfectly legal and face the punitive consequences. This attack on our freedoms and rights is contemptible and I will be fighting it every step of the way’.
Last year, a spokesperson for INEOS said the injunction was ‘right and responsible’.
Spinwatch approached INEOS for a comment about the appeal yesterday. The company so far has not responded.
- High Court
- Court of Appeal