Protester did not have human right to climb fracking rig, judge decides

A man who climbed a huge piece of fracking machinery and refused to come down for ten hours has had his appeal rejected in court.

Thursday, 5th July 2018, 3:03 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:10 pm
Dr Whittick on top of the rig

Dr Peter Whittick, 53, sought to have his conviction overturned on human rights grounds.

However today Judge Shani Barnes dismissed his appeal and increased his sentence.

Dr Whittick was originally convicted at Brighton Magistrate’s Court following a trial in February.

Dr Peter Whittick was convicted following the protest

Dr Whittick, 53, said at case opening at Hove Crown Court yesterday: “I am referring to my right to Freedom of Conscience.

“To take action driven by my belief in the dangers of man made climate change.”

Judge Shani Barnes said: “We are not here to decide whether fracking is in fact dangerous what we are here to decide is if you were in circumstances action responsibility exercising human rights.

“The offence is a very simple and straightforward offence.

The fracking rig that Dr Whittick climbed

“It has nothing to do with fracking.”

Dr Whittick was arrested on September 7, last year, after spending ten hours on an oil rig lorry at Pease Pottage service station.

It was on its way to Lidsey from the Broadford Bridge drill site.

His magistrate’s court trial heard how he was spotted on it at 2.30am but refused to get off it in a bid to delay oil well testing, the court heard.

He was charged with hindering rig owner British Drilling and Freezing Ltd, from carrying out its lawful business.

Sentencing Dr Whittick at the trial, district judge Christopher James, said: “It is clear Dr Whittick is of good character and is a conscientious man, who wanted to attract the attention of the press to make an end to fracking, but this is not a defence. The driver was not able to continue his job for ten hours, making his total working day 21 hours. “There was no evidence the vehicle was unroadworthy and there was nothing unlawful about the driving. “It is clear Dr Whittick’s actions hindered the vehicle from carrying out its lawful business. “What he did was unreasonable and unlawful and he is guilty of the offence charged.”

Today Dr Whittick’s appeal was dismissed and his original sentence was increased from a 12-month conditional discharge to a 24-month conditional discharge.