Yoga teacher in the dock over protests

A Wigan woman is in the dock in the largest prosecution in terms of defendant numbers since anti-fracking protests began at the start of the year.

Thursday, 2nd November 2017, 10:25 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 2:53 am
Helen Doyle

Ten people – all Greenpeace activists, including Helen Dryde, of Standish – have appeared in the dock.

They are alleged to have obstructed the highway outside the Cuadrilla gas exploration site near Blackpool, Lancs.

Vincent Yip, prosecuting, said that police were called to the entrance to the site.

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They found 10 members of Greenpeace “locked on” in pairs across the site entrance.

Their arms were covered by large yellow boxes bearing anti-fracking logos.

Despite their presence a convoy of 11 trucks left the site and vans entered it.

The protesters were asked to move on and one pair were cut free and the others released themselves.

The prosecutor said that after the end of the protest the chief executive of Cuadrilla Francis Egan said what had gone on had no effect on his company’s work.

Lancashire County Council highways works manager Paul Smith told District Judge Jeff Brailsford at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court that the protesters had been sat on the public highway and the boundary between the highway and Cuadrilla site was well delineated.

Of the 10 on trial four chose to give evidence in their defence.

They were Greenpeace staff member Abigail Mortimer, trainee yoga teacher Helen Dryden, women’s aid worker Liz Stanton and Gillian Wood, a film costume artist.

The four admitted the desire on the day was to disrupt Cuadrilla but all four said they did not affect traffic on the main road.

The defendants are James Biggs, 30, of Canning Street, Liverpool; Peter Chan, 48, of Waverley Road, Reading; Helen Dryden, 47, of Calveley Walk, Standish; Jane Hayes, 58, of Langdale End, Scarborough; Hamish Hyanes, 43, of Quarry Clough, Tameside, Manchesster; Abigail Mortimer, 30, of Lorne Road, Haringey, London; Jeffrey Rice, 50, of Boulton Close, Chesterfield; Elizabeth Stanton, 54, of Grafton Street,Preston; Gillian Wood, 50, of Regent Road, Blackpool; Barrie Broadley, 49, of Ipswich Road, Norwich.

They all denied wilfully obstructing the highway outside the Cuadrilla gas exploration site at Little Plumpton near Blackpool during an anti fracking demonstration in May this year.