Lancashire

Anti-fracking protester claimed disability payments

Ms Jackson Image copyright CPS
Image caption Catherine Jackson (left) was photographed in Little Plumpton protesting against fracking

A woman who chained herself to equipment during anti-fracking protests while claiming disability payments has been given a suspended sentence.

Catherine Jackson, 51, pleaded guilty at Blackpool Magistrates Court to dishonestly claiming £5,392 of personal independence payments (PIP).

The court she took part in "strenuous demonstrations" in Lancashire after saying she was in constant pain.

She was sentenced to 23 weeks in jail, suspended for two years.

'Physically demanding'

In her claim for PIP, she had said she could "barely stand up" and slept most of the day because of extreme pain in her shoulder from arthritis, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said in a statement.

She also said she suffered from anxiety and depression and could not leave the house.

She was photographed at the fracking site in Little Plumpton shackled to equipment and was only released when police used angle grinders to break through the chains, the CPS said.

Part of her defence was that the activity had helped her mental health condition, but the CPS said that was "unconvincing".

Justine McVitie of the CPS Fraud Unit said: "Ms Jackson said she had to be woken for meals by her daughter and was in constant pain.

"Yet she was seen taking part in physically demanding protests at the Little Plumpton site that would be challenging for most people.

"It was clear to the CPS that Ms Jackson was dishonestly claiming this money and was not nearly as incapacitated as she claimed."

The 51-year-old has also been given a 12-week curfew from 19:00 to 07:00.

The Preston New Road site, near Little Plumpton, has been the subject of continuing protests by local people and campaigners.

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