Petrochemical giant, INEOS, today found themselves in a deteriorating position, following a High Court verdict, which partially dismissed their questionable injunction that had been imposed in July early this year.
Following a court hearing on the 31 July 2017, which was conducted in private away from the press and public scrutiny, a blanket injunction against ‘Persons Unknown’, was imposed, effectively banning all protest against Ineos’s operations, both online and offline. The threats of imprisonment, steep financial penalties or even or asset-seizing, left campaigners horrified at the lengths a corporation would go to criminalise legitimate protest.
Ineos returned to court on the 12 September 2017 with the intention of making their interim injunction permanent.
With two named defendants challenging INEOS, Joe Corré, son of Dame Vivienne Westwood, and campaigner Joe Boyd, the judge ordered a three-day hearing which started on 31 October 2017 in the Chancery Division of the High Court in London.
Today, Mr Justice Morgan handed down his verdict, ordering yet another interim injunction, leaving INEOS to lick their wounds. This ruling is now subject to either appeal or a full trial.
Joe Corré said:
“Essentially, what we won today, is that they have removed entirely, the harassment clause.
“It’s never been harassment because what I think has been recognised by the court, is that is Ineos or a fracking company wants to come and destroy your environment, you’re not harassing them by telling them, in whatever terms you think necessary, that you don’t like it. That’s not harassment.
“During the first hearing, Ineos lost about 10% of what they asked for in their initial 2,000-page injunction.
“This time around, a much larger chunk has been chopped away by Mr Justice Morgan.
“We’ll keep going until Ineos is a quivering blob on the floor.”
The defendants still remain concerned over Ineos’s injunction against ‘Persons Unknown’, which sets a dangerous precedent for other corporations to attempt to ‘buy the law’. Watch Joe Corré talking about today’s decision, here.
Additionally, it is believed that evidence submitted to the judge over fracking’s compatibility under the Climate Change Act has still not been taken into proper consideration.
Food and Water Europe’s Executive Director, Wenonah Hauter, responded to today’s verdict:
“Ineos is facing sustained protests for a reason. The company has amassed an atrocious environmental record across Europe, from chemical leaks and substantial pollutant releases to fires and explosions. If this company is being allowed to frack the UK, more pollution and more accidents are likely to follow.”
“The public knows the dangers fracking poses to our clean air and water, and that’s why activists in England are taking bold action to protect their communities against these threats. Ineos would like to stifle this movement, and unfortunately, this High Court injunction has given the company a potentially powerful tool to threaten those advocating for a healthy climate and a livable world.
“If Ineos thinks a court injunction will stop the movement to protect our water, climate and communities from fracking, they are in for a surprise.”
Defendants in the case will now be reviewing their position over the next two weeks on whether to take further possible actions.
Key points from today’s judgement:
- The injunction has not been made permanent
- Ineos’s bully-boy boasts of securing the “widest-ranging injunction” have been proven hollow.
- A partial win for protestors, with Ineos’s attempt at a harassment clause, citing negative social media posts or any other communication, such as making a cup of tea for a protestor, being dismissed
- The interim injunction is now pending an appeal judgement or a trial verdict.