Judge finds Sheffield tree campaigner breached injunction with Facebook post

Calvin Payne.
Calvin Payne.
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A Sheffield tree campaigner could face prison after a judge found he had breached an injunction order made against protesters.

Calvin Payne was this afternoon found to be in contempt of court for going against the order made on behalf of Sheffield Council in August.

Judge Mr Justice Males agreed with the authority's allegation that Mr Payne had encouraged others to protest inside safety barriers put up around trees in a Facebook post.

On October 6 he wrote in the Save Netherthorpe Trees group: "What I would really like is for as many people as possible to break the injunction on Monday morning."

The injunction forbids people from entering safety barriers, preventing them being set up, or from urging others to do so.

Mr Payne is also subject to four more allegations that relate to entering or remaining in a safety zone, but the judge will consider those over the next few days before releasing his decision.

Alison Teal.

Alison Teal.

Mr Payne will be sentenced a week today. The council is seeking a prison term, but he could also be fined. He could avoid a sentence if he apologises and promises not to break the injunction again - but the judge must believe the apology to be sincere.

Green Party councillor Alison Teal was also in court today, but the judge found she had not breached the injunction.

She was alleged to have entered a safety zone in Kenwood Road on September 25. But Amey director Darren Butt admitted there were 'gaps' between the barriers, and the judge said he could not be sure whether or not they were present when Ms Teal was there.

He said: "My clear impression from the evidence is that I cannot be sure to the criminal standard of proof that she was there when there was no gap.”

Proceedings have also been brought against Siobhan O'Malley, but she was given a week to take legal advice and will return to court next Friday.