The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has dropped charges of aggravated trespass against 15 year old Salford schoolgirl, Saffron Hughes, and Kate McCann, which were due to be heard at Manchester Magistrates Court on Monday.
"I'm relieved the case is over" Saffron told the Salford Star this evening "However I'm angry that I didn't have a chance to say my version in the court. I did nothing wrong on that day. Thank you to Lizars for representing me and all the protectors at Barton Moss."
The arrest of Saffron caused shock and outrage from both eye witnesses and the wider community when she was pulled from the line of protectors and arrested while slow walking lorries from the IGas exploratory drilling site during anti-fracking protests at Barton Moss back in February.
Saffron was arrested around 2pm and taken to Swinton Police Station where she was held until 8:15pm, during which time she wasn't allowed access to her mother, although her father did get to see her. Around two dozen people protested outside the police station until Saffron's release.
At the time, Saffron's brother Kyle, who was at Barton Moss on the day, told the Salford Star "I just think it's the police being aggressive more than anything...It's scary when it's the first time you've been on the walk and get arrested for `walking'."
Family friend, Ian Tushingham, added "I certainly didn't see any offence. This was a young girl doing her school project on the pros and cons of fracking, trying to get a well judged view by coming and getting information first hand - and was bullied and harangued by police…It was shocking and very, very shameful what the GMP have done today." (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
This evening Simon Pook, solicitor with Robert Lizars who represented Saffron and Kate said: "We welcome the decision by the CPS to discontinue this case against Saffron Hughes and Kate McCann, particularly the case against Saffron - given her young age and the suffering and emotional turmoil she has been through, including the bullying she was subjected to during the early stages of her arrest
"Our concern is the escalating cost to the public purse of the ongoing failures of these cases" Simon Pook added.
Meanwhile, Sally Clough, one of the Salford protectors at Barton Moss told the Salford Star: "The Government needs to do a full scale inquiry into the actions of Greater Manchester Police at Barton Moss. Not only is this a huge waste of tax payers money, but there are serious breaches of human rights legislation.
"At one point the media referred to this as a war of words between us and GMP" she added "but all along we have stated that they were not only acting outside of the law but actually out of control, and now we feel fully vindicated."
This latest setback for the CPS brings a total of 22 cases where charges have either been dropped, dismissed or the defendant found `not guilty' (see previous Salford Star article - click here)
Photos by Steven Speed