In 2018 fracking protesters walked free after court quashes 'excessive' sentences
Judge who jailed 'Fracking Three' for climbing on lorries at drilling site has family links to oil and gas firms - and sister said 'give shale a chance' in letter backing controversial process
The draconian sentencing to jail anti-fracking activists for non-violent direct action has received insufficient attention
JC Altham celebrates 60 years as a Freemason ( Morecambe Lodge No 1561)
John Carr Altham (middle) celebrates 60 years as a Freemason
Left to right: Rich Loizou, Simon Blevins and Richard Roberts
Three protesters jailed for blocking access to a fracking site have walked free after the court of appeal quashed their sentences, calling them “manifestly excessive”.
Simon Blevins, 26, Richard Roberts, 36, and Rich Loizou, 31, were sent to prison last month after being convicted of causing a public nuisance with a protest outside the Preston New Road site near Blackpool, Lancashire. Blevins and Roberts were sentenced to 16 months and Loizou to 15 months.
But on Wednesday afternoon the court of appeal ruled their sentences were inappropriate and they should be freed immediately. Soon after, the trio walked free from Preston prison, where they were greeted with hugs and cheers from dozens of supporters.
To applause from the crowd, Loizou said: “If people break the law out of a moral obligation to prevent the expansion of fossil fuel industries they should not be sent to prison.
“The fracking industry threatens to industrialise our beautiful countryside. It will force famine, flooding and many other disasters on the world’s most vulnerable communities by exacerbating climate change.
“Fracking is beginning right now, so there has never been a more critical time to take action. Your planet needs you.”
He urged people to join a mass demonstration at the Preston New Road site on Saturday.
Questions over the original trial judge’s family links to the oil and gas industry were
also raised in court on Wednesday. Judge Robert Altham’s father and sister run JC Altham and Sons, a
company believed to be part of the supply chain for energy giant Centrica, which has invested tens of
millions of pounds in fracking.
The brethren of Morecambe Lodge No 1561 were honoured by the presence of Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger for the celebration of John Carr Altham’s 60 years as a Freemason. David was accompanied on this commemorative occasion by the Lancaster and District Group Secretary Scott Devine, grand officer Tom Holroyd and acting Provincial grand officer Stewart Aimson. Ensuring the smooth running of the festivities was Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Barry Fitzgerald.