When all other avenues of resistance have been exhausted, the right to peaceful protest is all communities have left. But as we saw today, that right is under concerted and consistent attack.
Campaigners from across the South East gathered at the High Court in London at lunchtime yesterday in a protest against a “draconian injunction” application by oil company, UK Oil and Gas.
Six women from Surrey and Sussex are opposing the application for an interim injunction which aims to stop certain forms of protest at UKOG sites.
They say their right to peaceful protest will be stifled by the injunction, which is in breach of their human rights. UKOG is currently presenting its case, and will be followed by Stephanie Harrison QC for the defendants. The case is due to finish on Thursday morning.
The campaigners were joined by Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley and deputy leader Amelia Womack, supporting the right to peaceful protest.
Jonathan Bartley said: “When all other avenues of resistance have been exhausted, the right to peaceful protest is all communities have left. But as we saw today, that right is under concerted and consistent attack.
"The application from UKOG is part of a nationwide rollout of injunctions intended to stifle dissent. Across the country the blunt and over-heavy cudgel of legal prohibition is being invoked to suppress people's basic freedoms.
"From Sussex to Sheffield and Lancashire to London, draconian decrees are attempting to diminish dissent by criminalising those who put their bodies on the line in the fight to protect local communities and our planet from environmental destruction."
Friends of the Earth applied to intervene in the case, as it says its interests as an organisation campaigning on climate change are also affected. It was not given permission to intervene, and has applied to become defendants, subject to a costs protection agreement with UKOG.
This article is based on a press release from Weald Action Group.