Anti-fracking student appeals conviction

Laura Clayson, President of LUSU
Laura Clayson, President of LUSU

The president of Lancaster University Students’ Union (LUSU) is due to appear in court to fight a conviction relating to anti-fracking protests in Manchester.

LUSU president Laura Clayson, 24, and her co-defendant Sarah McGowan, 51, both from Lancaster, will appear before a judge at Manchester Crown Court on May 1 to ask for a re-opening of their case, after they were found guilty of obstructing an officer in the execution of their duty in July last year.

On January 7 2014, the pair locked themselves to a concrete barrel inside a car in order to obstruct the passage of trucks carrying materials to the controversial Barton Moss fracking site.

They were originally arrested for obstructing a public highway, however Manchester Magistrates Court ruled Barton Moss Road was not in fact a public highway.

Their charge was subsequently changed to the one they were found guilty of, however Ms Clayton and Ms McGowan are disputing the conviction.

Ms Clayson said: “We do not believe that they were executing their duty by arresting us for something that was not an offence.

“We took this action in order to support the local community’s struggle against the unconventional fossil fuel industry, to inspire others to take immediate action on climate change and to raise awareness about the issue of fracking itself.”

Miss Clayson said they were asking a judge for their case to be re-opened in light of new evidence that other people on the same charge of obstructing a police office had been found not guilty.

In July they were both sentenced to 18 months conditional discharge and were ordered to pay £565 court costs.