Officer’s fear at ‘hostile’ protest at Cuadrilla’s site on Preston New Road

Blackpool Magistrates Court
Blackpool Magistrates Court

A police officer told a court how he was surrounded by anti-fracking protesters as he tried to arrest a woman.

PC Anthony Blezard told magistrates he felt he was in a “very hostile situation” and felt he was in danger.

Defendant Sarah Rugen, 34, denied resisting arrest at Cuadrilla’s site in Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, last August.

She also denied tampering with a vehicle by trying to climb aboard the tractor unit of an arriving truck.

Rugen, formerly of Maple Farm in Westby but now living in Whetstone Road, Birkenhead, was found guilty of climbing on the truck, but cleared of resisting arrest after saying she had been forced to the ground of the Maple Farm car park and had not fallen over deliberately.

Prosecutor Vincent Yip said a convoy of trucks and police cars on its way to the site had to stop because of protestors in the road ahead.

He said Rugen tried to climb on an HGV before jumping down and disappearing into the crowd as police officers chased her.

The court was told witnesses identified Rugen as the person responsible, and PC Blezard was told over his radio to arrest her.

Magistrates in the resort heard how, when he tried to stop her walking away from him, a melee broke out with Rugen and PC Blezard on the ground surrounded by protestors.

Other police officers went to the scene to protect their colleague, the court was told.

However, magistrates accepted that, though there had been a hostile situation, it was not proof of Rugen resisting arrest.