Sheffield City Council withdraws interim injunction application against tree protesters, pending trial

Leeds Court
Leeds Court

SHEFFIELD City Council has withdrawn an application for an interim injunction against tree felling protesters, subject to a full trial.

The local authority had been seeking legal action against eight people in the High Court in Leeds today.

The case was halted after a trial hearing date was brought forward to Wednesday of next week (July 26).

The council will be seeking permanent injunctions against the defendants and ‘persons unknown’ at the trial. which is expected to last three days.

Earlier today, the barrister representing the local authority had described protesters’ actions as “an affront to the rule of law.”

The legal action is as a result of continued protests against tree felling as part of the council’s Streets Ahead contract with Amey.

The council says campaigners are protesting inside safety barriers ‘unlawfully’ and as a result holding up work - which is costing the taxpayer money.

But some people are determined to stand up for their beliefs.

The council’s barrister David Fosdick, QC, told the court: “The defendants appear to think that their actions are lawful, peaceful protests. They are simply wrong.

“The right to protest does not extend to stopping a public authority from doing what it is lawfully entitled to do.”

“It is a contradiction in terms for people to take it into their own hands to stop the will of a democratically elected authority.”

“There simply is not any right to be there at all.

“You can protest on the pavement as much as you like and we will facilitate that.

“But you are not entitled to trespass within the safety zones.

Mr Fosdick described the actions of the group as “an affront to the rule of law in a democracy.”

He added: “All democratic legal areas have been exhausted.

“The council has made up it’s mind lawfully and democratically and we are here because it will not be forced to change its mind by the unlawful actions of the few.

“Nothing less than an injunction will do.”

The barrister said there had been no example in the courts, either in this country or abroad, including the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights, facilitating similar conduct by protest groups.

The eight defendants include Green Party councillor for Nether Edge and Sharrow Alison Teal, along with Alice Fairhall, Calvin Payne, Dave Dilner, Robin Ridley, Graham Turnbull, Paul Brooke and Simon Crump. They were supported in court by former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett.

If the campaigners are served with injunctions and break them they will be in contempt of court, and could face fines or even prison.

Following the lunch break, both parties were made aware that an earlier trial date had become available.

Judge Andrew Saffman agreed to adjourn the case after both legal teams agreed that the new trial date was acceptable.