A powerful group photo call of INEOS-gagged campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice opened the three-day hearing yesterday, of the challenge against a prohibitive injunction which restricts people’s right to protest against INEOS’s fracking operations.

The first day of the High Court hearing saw Joe Corré and his legal team sit through the evidence gathered and provided by INEOS and their legal team. More embarrassingly for INEOS, their ‘evidence’ relied on the desperate dredging-up of hundreds of cherry-picked social media posts to substantiate their oppressive injunction.

By trolling the depths of social media and taking screenshots from Facebook and Twitter posts, INEOS claimed this as proof to the court, of “a real and imminent threat” of unlawful protest to their 28 exploration and PEDL licence areas across 1.2 million acres, including two proposed shale gas sites in Derbyshire and Rotherham. The injunction also covers INEOS’s entire supply chain.

QC for INEOS, Janet Bignall, read out one of the “imminent threat” posts seen on Facebook, which simply said: “We’ve got pallets”. Ms Bignall took this pitifully weak post to state that it was a direct threat that anti-fracking campaigners might create a camp and build structures made from pallets. It is clear that INEOS were struggling to provide any credible or concrete evidence to substantiate their claims.

This injunction is the first of its kind, being a pre-emptive strike to stifle any and all meaningful protest against the controverial fracking industry. Agreed in a private court hearing, with no press or defendants present, the injunction poses a direct threat to freedom of speech and our human rights

Sent out via emails, direct personal messages to Facebook, postings to websites and an array of High Court order notices attached around INEOS’s sites, the injunction is a dangerous indication of a reckless industry that holds no social license nor ability to properly liaise with communities, outside of threatening the core of the right to protest.

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Yesterday, in the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Justice Morgan said in relation to the injunction, as he challenged INEOS’s QC:

“It is a remarkable state of affairs. The general rule is that you name a defendant, who becomes a party. The order is made against the person and he or she knows they are not allowed to do this and if they do it there will be consequences.
“You’re not saying specifically what is prohibited or not, so there’s uncertainty about what is allowed or not: is it unreasonable or not?”

By attempting to privatise the law to suit themselves and impose unreasonable injunctions infringing human rights against ‘persons unknown’, INEOS have shown their outright desperation to force fracking upon unwilling communities and effectively ordering residents to stay gagged about it.

In other related news this week, INEOS completed a £199m acquisition deal for BP’s Forties Pipeline System. Essentially, this now means that INEOS is the main controller of almost 40% of the oil and gas in the UK’s North Sea.

Additionally this week, INEOS confirmed its buy-out of British heritage brand, Belstaff. From its traditional 1924 roots, Belstaff has enjoyed many a celebrity endorsement, from Steve McQueen, Che Guavara to more recently, David Beckham. Belstaff, globally known for its iconic motorcycle jackets, has allegedly been brought “back to British ownership”, according to INEOS (who notably, are an offshire-banking company).

From the dizzying heights of fossil fuel global domination to the glitzy catwalk of heritage fashion? An odd choice for Jim Ratcliffe in his ongoing game of real-life Monopoly.

In September, Dame Vivienne Westwood and the British Fashion Council launched a new clean energy campaign, backed by major brands such as Stella McCartney, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Marks and Spencer. The campaign, named Switch, aims to encourage fashion houses to commit to switching to a green energy supplier by 2020 in a bid to promote renewable energy for a sustainable future.

Will Jim Ratcliffe sign-up to support this climate-positive pledge, in light of the critical need to reduce fossil fuels useage if we are to meet our climate change goals, sealed in the Paris Agreement. Considering INEOS has reported to have been leading the lobby against the Green Tax and decarbonisation, we’d suggest Mr Ratcliffe won’t be in a hurry to join Vivienne’s Switch scheme.

Joe Corré made his thoughts clear on Twitter, regarding the controversial Belstaff takeover:

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Yet further reports from October 2017, indicate INEOS is borrowing more money on top of existing refinanced debt. The conglomerate’s net debt at the end of September 2017, was £5b. We’re hardly talking pocket change now, are we?

Keep up with Drill or Drop’s reporting of the INEOS v The People hearing here.