Anti-fracking protesters who were jailed for blocking access to a fracking site have been freed after the court of appeal quashed their “manifestly excessive” sentences – and now the focus must move onto the judge who passed those sentences.
Simon Blevins, 26, and Richard Roberts, 36, were imprisoned for 16 months, while Rich Loizou, 31, recevied a 15-month sentence after being convicted of causing a public nuisance with a protest outside the Preston New Road site near Blackpool, Lancashire.
But on Wednesday afternoon the court of appeal ruled their sentences were inappropriate and they should be freed immediately.
What does this decision say about the judge who passed the original sentences – Robert Altham?
According to the Mirror, the judge’s family business, J.C. Altham and Sons, is believed to be part of the supply chain for energy giant Centrica, which has invested tens of millions of pounds in fracking.
If this is true, then Judge Altham had an interest in the matter and should not have had anything to do with it; the fact that he presided over the case would be a perversion of the course of justice.
And moves have already been made to secure an investigation.
The decision to quash the original sentence and impose community orders instead has been welcomed by the leaders of political parties other than the Conservatives, who are allowing fracking to take place in Lancashire:
I welcome the decision to quash the unjust sentences of fracking protestors.
We stand in solidarity with the activists and thank them for standing up to the further destruction of our environment by this Tory Government.
When Labour gets into government we will ban fracking.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 17, 2018
Shadow cabinet minister Rebecca Long-Bailey has released a video going further:
One of Labour's rising stars makes a promise to voters. Under Labour, there will be no fracking. pic.twitter.com/iIxzwoNdJW
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) October 17, 2018
And the Green Party’s MP, Caroline Lucas, made the point that the imprisoned men had been carrying out a peaceful protest and their sentences were an appalling misuse of power:
It’s critical we stand up against the criminalisation of peaceful protest, against fracking & against climate breakdown #FreeTheThree #solidariry pic.twitter.com/8ebXqaldrR
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) October 17, 2018
This story is not over.
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Ah, the UK Criminal Justice System PLC! It looks like a return to those old, much loved and sadly missed ‘Victorian Values’ that so many torys hanker after and repeatedly attempt to make fashionable again has been stymied in the nick of time. Can’t take your eyes off these people for a moment. Not really progressed far for a 21st century human rights orientated, justice focused democracy have we! There is no rest: we exist in a state of perpetual vigilance!
Not everybody in the Labour Party has got the anti-fracking message:
She’s New Labour. Was parachuted into the constituency she represented, and some say she got it because she was connected to Gordon Brown.
Yet more stinking, dirty Tory corruption as they take us forward to the 18th century.