Balcombe anti-fracking protester found guilty over demo

Balcombe anti-fracking protests Hundreds of anti-fracking protesters from around the country gathered in the village of Balcombe last summer

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A man who took part in anti-fracking protests at a test drilling site in the West Sussex village of Balcombe has been convicted of obstructing a highway.

Jamie Spiers, 29, of no fixed address, was found guilty at Chichester Magistrates' Court on Wednesday and given a 12-month conditional discharge.

He must pay costs of £300 and a victim surcharge of £15.

The court ordered that the payments be taken from his benefits.

Spiers was found guilty of wilfully obstructing free passage along the B2036 London Road in Balcombe.

A charge of "besetting" Cuadrilla's site - meaning obstructing or impeding the right of employees - was dismissed on 12 February.

Spiers was one of five defendants who faced a trial in Brighton last month after the anti-fracking protests in Sussex in summer 2013, but he failed to appear at that hearing.

The group included Natalie Hynde, the daughter of musicians Ray Davies and Chrissie Hynde.

Hynde superglued herself to another protester Simon Medhurst in an attempt she said to create a "striking and symbolic" media image.

Hundreds of anti-fracking protesters from around the country gathered at the village amid fears that energy firm Cuadrilla would carry out fracking after it had test-drilled for oil.

• This story was amended on 17/03/14 after an earlier version incorrectly reported Spiers had been convicted of the "besetting" charge.

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