Judge hits out at huge costs of anti-fracking protest cases

District Judge Jeff Brailsford
District Judge Jeff Brailsford
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A judge who has handled more fracking trials than anyone else said the cases were putting huge pressure on the courts system.

Judge Jeff Brailsford, who sits at Blackpool Crown Court, said yesterday: “It is 12 months since these cases began. I hate to think what the cost to the court system has become.”

Judge Brailsford spoke in court after finding four anti-fracking campaigners guilty of obstructing the highway outside the main gas exploration site.

He said: “This case alone dates back nine months.

“When I started to sentence such cases I tended to give conditional discharges.

“That was to encourage people not to protest but to protest properly.

“This case alone has cost the country a lot of money.

“It has taken nine months to come to trial which is no fault of the defendants – it is the pressure on the court system which is causing delays.”

Before him were Barbara Cookson, 67, of Liverpool; Panda Miller, 34, and Darren Miller, 44, both of Tynedale Avenue, North Shore, and Lee Walsh, 43, of the anti-fracking campsite,.

They were given a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £170 court costs.

The four were arrested after they staged a lock on protest in the entrance to the Cuadrilla site on the A583 on June 30 last year.

Their protest lasted several hours at before they were moved a car and wooden crate were also across the site entrance.

The judge said that what happened effectively “blockaded” the site and caused problems to motorists after police had to establish a contraflow

He also said the defendants had staged their protest for a various of reasons one of which was the hope it would help close the site down and another said because she wanted to affect the worth of Cuadrilla shares.

The judge added: “They blockaded the entrance to the site- to prevent access and stop deliveries anybody else adversely affected was simply collateral damage.”