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Two environmental campaigners, including the son of the celebrity designer Vivienne Westwood, are to appeal a High Court ruling that they claim will have a “chilling effect” on opposition to fracking.
The court upheld and renewed a pre-emptive injunction granted to Ineos, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of chemical and oil products and the largest owner of shale licences in the UK.
The company is understood to have fracking licences that cover over 1.2 million acres of land across the northwest of England.
Its lawyers told the court that it faces “widespread illegal action by hardcore anti-fracking activists, including dangerous direct action and death threats”.
In July the company was granted an unprecedented injunction against protesters. It covered not only the eight sites in England, where Ineos planned or was investigating fracking exploration, but also several unidentified group companies, contractors, subcontractors and other entities in the business’s supply chain.
At the July hearing, the court granted Ineos an injunction preventing “persons unknown” from interfering in the lawful activities undertaken by the company’s staff and contractors.
The environmental activists Joseph Boyd and Joseph Corré, the lingerie designer and son of Malcolm McLaren and Vivenne Westwood, applied to the court seeking to discharge the injunction.
During a three-day hearing, lawyers for the pair argued that the unprecedented injunction was unlawful and that Ineos had failed to provide evidence justifying its wide coverage. They also told the court that the order was having a substantial impact on the legitimate rights of those people wishing to protest lawfully against fracking across the UK.
But Mr Justice Morgan disagreed in court yesterday, saying that he accepted the company’s argument that the injunction was justified to “protect people on and around [their] sites and supply chain”.
Rosa Curling, a lawyer at the London law firm Leigh Day, which acted for Boyd, said: “This case is about the right to protest, a right which has always been, and must continue to be, a fundamental aspect of peaceful political action in our society. Without the right to protest effectively, the ability of citizens to peacefully challenge injustices will be severely curtailed.”