Sheffield Council wanted names of tree campaigners attending police meeting to help with its future legal action

A Sheffield Council boss suggested South Yorkshire Police getting the names of anti tree-felling campaigners attending a private meeting would be “useful” in assisting the local authority potentially taking future legal action against them, it has been revealed.

Sunday, 22nd December 2019, 4:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 3:26 pm

On February 1, 2018, Philip Beecroft, head of highway maintenance for the council, emailed Superintendent Paul McCurry to ask whether there would be a register of attendance at a meeting police had arranged with members of Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG) to discuss how Operation Quito would work.

Mr Beecroft added that it “would be useful as we could refer to them being made aware of their responsibilities in any future injunction hearings”.

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There have been years of protests against tree-felling work in Sheffield.

Supt McCurry responded, saying: “We will be recording the meeting with STAG, we will try to obtain a register of attendance but this may prove difficult.”

South Yorkshire Police said today no information sharing with the council occurred. A spokeswoman added: “SYP took the decision that any request for information sharing would have only been accepted following an application to the court, however we are not aware any such applications have been made.”

Sheffield Council had secured a High Court injunction in the summer of 2017 which banned protesters from standing directly underneath threatened trees to prevent them being felled following the tactic being used by protesters on multiple occasions.

In June 2018, the council applied to have four tree campaigners sent to prison for contempt of court after alleging they had breached the injunction.

Paul Brooke, a self-employed joiner, and three fellow campaigners, university lecturer Simon Crump, French magician Benoit Compin and retired schoolteacher Fran Grace, were all accused of breaching the injunction in five different incidents between December 2017 and March 2018.

Crump and Compin were given suspended prison sentences after both being found to have breached the injunction twice, while the judge in the case ruled no further action needed to be taken against Grace after she was involved in an “isolated incident”. The application against Brooke was dismissed.