Cuadrilla anti-fracking protesters guilty of contempt

Chris Wilson, Katrina Lawrie and Lee Walsh
Image caption Chris Wilson, Katrina Lawrie and Lee Walsh outside Manchester Civil Justice Centre

Three campaigners who protested against fracking in Lancashire have been found guilty of contempt of court.

Katrina Lawrie, Christopher Wilson and Lee Walsh took part in a "lock-on" protest at Cuadrilla's site on Preston New Road last July.

They breached an injunction obtained by Cuadrilla to ban trespassers blocking access to the site in Little Plumpton, the High Court in Manchester ruled.

The judge said the most severe penalty would be a suspended prison sentence.

It is the first time anyone has been convicted of breaching an injunction requested by an oil and gas company in the UK.

The three will be sentenced later this year on a date to be confirmed.

Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said: "We respect the right to legal and peaceful protest but too often we have seen the opposite with dangerous, disrespectful and illegal activity around our shale gas exploration site in Preston New Road.

"Local people, our staff and contractors have rights too and they must be equally protected."

The Preston New Road site at Little Plumpton has been the scene of repeated protests from environmentalists who object to hydraulic fracturing - in which liquid is pumped at high pressure deep underground to fracture rock and release gas.

Work at Cuadrilla's Preese Hall site near Blackpool was suspended in 2011 after it was linked with two earth tremors.

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