A Fylde anti-fracking protestor is vowing to fight a demand for £51,000 over a protest at a proposed drill site.
Tina Rothery from the Lancashire Nanas group appeared at Blackpool County Court for a hearing to give evidence of her finances and personal circumstances.
She is being sued by landowners backed by fracking company Cuadrilla for costs following the Reclaim the Power occupation of the site on farmland off Preston New Road near Little Plumpton in August 2014.
The costs occurred after a court hearing in October 2014 when Ms Rothery was named as a defendant when an injunction was placed on the land to prevent any further protests.
She asked for an adjournment to consider providing evidence, but later chose not to. But she said after Friday’s court appearance that she would not supply any details as she felt the legal action was an ‘abuse of the British legal system and bullying by rich companies and landowners against ordinary people with a legitimate protest against an industry they fear will damage the environment’.
Admitting she may face jail, she said: “This is the abuse of the tools of democracy to prevent peaceful protest.
“Grandmas camping in a field for three weeks does not warrant £50,000 plus costs. We caused no damage, cleaned up and were not evicted as we had already left. In five years of fighting fracking we have done no harm. The court should not be abused by corporate entities. I have put the ball back in their court. It’s up to them. They may say I am in contempt of court but I say they are in contempt of justice and democracy.”
Trish Buchan who had come from Falkirk to support Ms Rothery, along with scores of others bearing “I am Tina Rothery” t-shirts in solidarity, said it was about ordinary people standing up to big business.
She said: “This is a national campaign more important than borders. This is blatant corporate bullying.”
Bob Dennett from Frack Free Lancashire said: “We are not going to be bullied by wealthy interests any more.
“We need to have our day in court so people can see.”
A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “Today Ms Rothery was asked to provide information to a Court Officer on her financial means.
“This is because she has failed to comply with an Order the Court made against her in October 2014 to pay costs as a result of trespass on private farmland in August 2014.
“Ms Rothery asked to be a named defendant in the original trespass case and was informed by the Court at the time that, as a result, an order for costs could be made against her.
“Whilst we respect the right of legal, peaceful protest, in this instance the Lancashire farmers were subjected to this trespass by hundreds of trespassers over a prolonged period.
“They will now consider next steps.
“Cuadrilla is fully supporting the local farmers in this”.