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GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE BARTON MOSS ARRESTS CASE SET TO COLLAPSE
 

Star date: 13th February 2014 

JUDGE RULES YOU CANNOT OBSTRUCT A HIGHWAY THAT DOESN'T EXIST

For three months Greater Manchester Police officers, at great public cost, have been arresting anti-fracking campaigners at Barton Moss for `obstruction of the highway' as they sought to slow down lorries delivering to the iGas exploratory drilling site on Barton Moss Road.

Yesterday, at Manchester Magistrates Court, the District Judge ruled that Barton Moss Road was a public footpath, not a highway, as the GMP case looks set to collapse.

Full details here…


Salford Barton Moss Anti-fracking Campaign Salford Barton Moss Anti-fracking Campaign Salford Barton Moss Anti-fracking Campaign
Salford Barton Moss Anti-fracking Campaign Salford Barton Moss Anti-fracking Campaign Salford Barton Moss Anti-fracking Campaign
Salford Barton Moss Anti-fracking Campaign
click image to enlarge

Since November 26th last year, officers from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have made scores of arrests of anti-fracking campaigners at the Barton Moss Community Protection Camp, citing `obstruction of the highway' as they have walked slowly down Barton Moss Road to delay delivery lorries to the iGas exploratory drilling site.

Yesterday, at Manchester Magistrates Court, District Judge Qureshi agreed with the campaigners' solicitor Simon Pook, of Robert Lizar Solicitors, that Barton Moss Road was indeed a public footpath, not a highwaya point agreed by GMP's own QC – and, by implication, voiding all charges for people `obstructing the highway'

The legal test is that people must be able to `pass and re-pass' while walking down the footpath, or to walk up and down without obstruction. Despite the campaigners slow walking vehicles down Barton Moss Road, public walkers have never been obstructed.

Once this point had been agreed at the Court, the GMP QC changed tack and tried to argue that the police had not been allowed to `pass and re-pass' – although videos submitted by Simon Pook, which would have shown this hardly to be the case, had not been viewed by the court, so the hearing was re-scheduled for 26th February. It is expected that all the GMP cases with regard to campaigners `obstructing the highway' will collapse.

Indeed, the videos clearly show that the police officers present at Barton Moss Road have been forming a kettle during the walks, and a kettle at the side of the road as the lorries are driving into the site. Everyone present has generally been pushed in front of the police lines on Barton Moss Road, be they anti-fracking campaigners or, indeed, journalists and photographers, the Salford Star included.

What this Court ruling means in practice is that, as long as the public can walk along Barton Moss Road, all the lock-ons in the road and the slow walks have been perfectly legal, and, if anything, the arrests have been unlawful.

"The Crown has accepted our position that obstruction of the highway with regard to a vehicle cannot take place on a public road" says Simon Pook, who is representing the majority of those arrested at Barton Moss

"To arrive at that point the Greater Manchester Police have had to instruct a leading QC to give them the advice - is this the most appropriate way to spend money from the public purse?" he asks "It reinforces that the protectors at Barton Moss have been acting a in a lawful capacity all along."

Last week, Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable, Sir Peter Fahy expressed his `exasperation' at the £660,000 cost so far of policing the Barton Moss actions – despite Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett expressing concerns about the huge amount of police officers, evidence gatherers and Tactical Aid Unit vans policing an average of around twenty campaigners…

"It's very evident just walking in here today that there's a huge level of policing for something totally non-violent" she told the Salford Star "Why are there so many police here? You really have to ask that question." (see here)

Now, with GMP seemingly, not only over-policing the Barton Moss actions, but also arresting people on charges which don't look like they will stand up in court, the pressure is on the Chief Constable to explain why the public is expected to bear the costs, estimated by the police to rise to around £1million.

See also previous Salford Star interview with Simon Pook on the policing of Barton Moss – click here

Update: 13th February 7:30pm

Barton Moss Protectors claim amazing victory as iGas lorries turned away from site - click here

T.Foy wrote
at 18:24:41 on 23 June 2014
I am awaiting a judgement from a county court where local council upgraded a public footpath to a byway without an order to do so the councils case is i was obstructing a highway ,Was I?
 
Zen wrote
at 07:34:55 on 16 February 2014
POLICE LIES HARM US ALL.
 
Kenneth w mckelvey wrote
at 19:43:58 on 15 February 2014
To the nondescript Churchill among other things had a few Disasters one was the mess he organised as A War Minister at Gallipole /Hundreds of thousands died/Then another blunder was when He had the Army out Shooting Miners in the General Strike/ Killing three / As for fighting them on the Beaches He and the Royals had Planes on Stand by to Take them and their bed fellows to Canada as soon as The Gerrys Landed . As you stated a Great Tory In your Eyes Maybe/ A good Warmonger maybe/ But be careful where you extol his principles / A lot of us have lost family through the stupidity of that barstool.
 
Chris wrote
at 07:41:58 on 15 February 2014
Redesignating or even diverting a public foitpath has always been very difficult. The Ramblers Association vigorously oppose any attempts to do so. Barton Moss Road Legal Team please note.
 
Chaz wrote
at 13:08:52 on 14 February 2014
Why is there a national news black out on this tut tut tut and lol Oh look, loads of reporters stood in the rain reporting about how its raining lmao
 
Joe O'Neill wrote
at 07:01:45 on 14 February 2014
Sorry Harry I was on the Lav so no chance to Google:)The Only Tory though I respect...
 
Brian f kirkham wrote
at 19:25:46 on 13 February 2014
So, according to an officer of the court, we now have vehicles driving down public footpaths to aid the process of extracting gas that isn't even going to benefit any of the local populous. Has Anybody actually done any regulating of Barton Moss to date? "Exploratory" Digging is one thing, Creating an Environmental mess is quite another - so by my basic arithmetic we've got four breaks of the law by the licencee - pollution of a waterway, blocking of a public footpath, illegal dumping and (to a lesser extent - though just as bad) being not exactly truthful about the impact on the area? Are our Environmental team keeping a note of these breaches in the law? If so? How are they enforcing the law against the fracking company? will we see the company lose its licence perhaps or will there be a few dozen notices served?
 
Laughing Harry wrote
at 17:46:53 on 13 February 2014
Joe, if you are going to quote the great Conservative Winston Churchill then at least get the quote correct. It's not "as so much" but "has so much". Nice to know you respect the views of the Tories though.
 
James Larkin wrote
at 15:04:48 on 13 February 2014
Well done Salford Star, first to report on this important and key local issue. Some man this Pook, he seems to be leading the way. God Bless him, any chance we can clone him for other parts of england, wales and scotland?
 
Intbel wrote
at 15:04:44 on 13 February 2014
What happens to the frackrs when the frackers get fracked? Well done and heartfelt thanks guys - a great day!
 
honukokua wrote
at 15:04:38 on 13 February 2014
Re: "I wonder if Salford City Council will collude with IGas to redesignate the footpath to a road?" It is a road already, a private one which also gives the public right of way to use it as a footpath. It's clearly not a public highway though. But this case will not prevent iGas vehicles travelling on the private road as they have been invited on there by on e of the tenants, iGas.
 
vic wrote
at 15:04:27 on 13 February 2014
So, is it lawful to drive trucks on a public footpath?
 
Em wrote
at 15:04:12 on 13 February 2014
Does this sentence have an error in it? "The Crown has accepted our position that obstruction of the highway with regard to a vehicle cannot take place on a public road" says Simon Pook, who is representing the majority of those arrested at Barton Moss. Surely it should be a public footpath, or a private road? (sorry, not being awkward, just want story to be clear as I was one of those arrested here!)
 
Joe Oneill wrote
at 15:03:31 on 13 February 2014
Never in the field of human conflict as so much been owed by so many to so few.
 
CBP wrote
at 10:54:01 on 13 February 2014
Now that a proper legal judgement has been made I wonder if Salford City Council planning department will collude with IGas to redesignate the footpath to a road? Watch this space I suppose... Considering the well documented GMP policing tactics I'm very suprised it's ONLY cost the taxpayer £1m to date, so it's quite funny to hear Sir Peter Fahy huffing and puffing hot air over the cost. Some of the officers seem quite happy to fill up their timesheets with healthy overtime, must be a mountain of paperwork to do as well. The Barton Moss Camp has done an incredible job of documenting so much and sticking to their guns when under considerable pressure and violence from some very stupid TAU officers (some of the TAU's think they are above the law). So thanks to the protesters at the camp for providing a framework for future fracking protests.
 
Darren More. wrote
at 10:53:03 on 13 February 2014
This is fantastic news for the Protectors. Very happy with this. :)
 
John Somebody wrote
at 10:52:51 on 13 February 2014
Wonderful. And it confirms my simple belief, that the only alternative to a lack of genuine progress, is genuine progress, no matter what any of us believe. So if we are right we simply have to persist, and adapt to fighting in more clever ways than the opposition. Steve H. told me last night about how they've been dumping obscene of radioactive fracking waste. So, lets do some more expoloring on fighting clever. I fancy a roadshow similar to what Daz and Co put on at Salford Precinct some weeks ago. Only with posters, showing as graphically as possible, what the dangers are
 
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