Fracking: Victory for Preston New Road protestor as conviction quashed by court

Cuadrilla's site at Preston New Road
Cuadrilla's site at Preston New Road
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An anti fracking campaigner has succeeded in appealing to have her conviction for obstructing a highway overturned.

Fiona Mary Smith, 46, who gave her address as the New Hope Resistance Camp near the Cuadrilla fracking site on Preston New Road, Blackpool, had previously been found guilty by magistrates of wilfully obstructing the free passage along a highway during an incident on November 6, 2018.

After a trial in February she was discharged for six months and ordered to pay a £290 surcharge and £125 costs.

But Smith took her case to appeal.

READ MORE: Judge criticises prosecution as lack of evidence sees anti-fracking protesters walk free over Preston New Road 'lock-on'
Recorder Michael Murray, sitting at Preston Crown Court with two magistrates, found there was a lack of evidence regarding her exact location, and permitted the appeal.

It is the second time Ms Smith has been acquitted of similar charges over evidential issues.

In March she was among nine anti-fracking protesters were told they had no case to answer over a similar protest in October 2018.

At that time District Judge Jane Goodwin criticised prosecuters over an "absence of evidence" put forward at their trial., during which they were accused of wilfully blocking Preston New Road as part of a protest outside Cuadrilla's fracking site on October 1 and 2 last year.

Protesters locked on under metal tepees at the entrance to the shale gas exploration site at Little Plumpton and a Cuadrilla manager said 25 delivery lorries had to be cancelled.