High Court grants interim injunction to stop unlawful protest action
against UKOG sites in Surrey and Sussex
· Judge grants injunction prohibiting unlawful protest activities at Horse Hill and Broadford Bridge sites.
· Ruling defines unlawful protest activities to include: site occupation/trespass, restriction of access to/from site, restricting or blocking the public highway, “slow-walking” in front of vehicles, “lock-ons” and “lorry surfing”.
UK Oil & Gas PLC (London AIM: UKOG) is pleased to announce that Mr John Male QC, sitting as a Judge of the Chancery Division of the High Court, has today granted an interim injunction against persons unknown who may in future engage in unlawful protest activity at our oil and gas exploration sites. The judgement provides UKOG immediate High Court protection against those who use the specified unlawful actions and breach the injunction at our sites.
The Judge granted injunctions in respect of Horse Hill and Broadford Bridge to: prohibit protesters from entering and remaining on the sites, blocking the public highway with a view to slowing down or stopping the traffic and with the intention of causing inconvenience and delay, slow-walking in front of vehicles, climbing on to vehicles (known as “lorry surfing”), obstructing the public highway at the entrance to the sites, and intimidation and assault of UKOG staff, contractors and supply chain.
Judge Male also found “there is a good reason to believe the Horse Hill site is under a real and imminent threat” and that slow-walking “is not a reasonable use of the highway”.
Judge Male’s ruling follows legal precedent set by two similar recent injunctions granted to third parties.
The full injunction order is available as a notice at UKOG sites and via the Company’s website www.ukogplc.com.
Stephen Sanderson, UKOG’s Chief Executive, commented:
“UKOG is pleased that this judgement firmly upholds the Company’s collective human, legal and democratic right to conduct its lawful business without hindrance from the unlawful actions of activists whose intent is to cause physical, psychological and financial harm to our company, staff, contractors, supply chain and local residents.
For the avoidance of doubt, this injunction did not seek in any way to remove the right to peaceful protest, freedom of assembly, or freedom of expression. It sought solely to gain a judicial determination of whether certain damaging actions employed by activists at our sites constituted peaceful, lawful protest or were unlawful. The judgement clearly rules that trespass on UKOG’s sites, interference with access to UKOG sites, obstruction of the highway (including by slow-walking, lock-ons and lorry surfing), and obstructing or interfering with our suppliers, does not constitute peaceful protest. Such actions are deemed unlawful and should cease to be employed by activists forthwith.
Those who wish to assemble and express their views peacefully and lawfully outside our sites will remain free to do so, as they have always been able to do. However, such persons should read the notice outside our sites, or on our website, to ensure they remain within the bounds of lawful protest as defined by the injunction order. For the avoidance of doubt, the Company will seek swift and appropriate redress from the High Court against activists who openly breach the injunction.
We must also stress that the motivation and necessity to seek this injunction was further reinforced by the recent disgraceful actions of a 50-strong mob of activists at the Horse Hill site near Gatwick Airport on Monday 20 August 2018. The actions employed by this mob, under the guise of what we understand to have been an “activist training exercise”, were threatening and intimidating to UKOG staff, contractors, local residents and the police. Nine arrests were made.
As was the case in the illegal occupation of our Horse Hill site in November 2017, in this latest incident, UKOG’s security team was again subjected to considerable verbal abuse, threats of violence and assault. Local residents were also verbally intimidated, threatened, abused and had property damaged. Residents were also unable to go about their lawful daily business as the road was effectively blocked by the activist mob for over 8 hours. Many of the activists wore masks increasing the threatening nature of the situation. Mob rule and anarchy has no place in modern Britain.
It is also ironic that those who sought to enforce their right to use such unlawful protest actions gave little or no thought to the human or democratic rights of UKOG, its staff, contractors, supply chain or local residents. Thankfully, we live in a democratic society where the law is the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes acceptable behaviour. Judge Male has clearly stated that, in this case, the rule of law prohibits the future use of such “mob rule” tactics.
We therefore trust that our opponents will abide by this ruling and employ only lawful methods to express their objections to our activities. It would be refreshing if such protests also fully respected the human and democratic rights of UKOG and local residents, enabling all to conduct their lawful business without undue hindrance or intimidation. Such fundamental behaviours are surely nothing less than is expected of all those who live and contribute to a free and democratic society.”
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