Five years ago, the global chemicals company Ineos took out a secret injunction to combat protests against the company’s fracking projects.
Joe Corré, with his mother the late Vivienne Westwood, were at the forefront of a movement against fracking, and Joe asked the company for a copy of the injunction. This immediately made him a ‘named defendant’, along with ‘persons unknown’, criminalising protesters with High Court sentences of several years in prison and unlimited fines (with the power to seize assets). The original injunction was extremely wide-ranging, with bans on talking to employees of Ineos or any of their supply chains, and even included a “harassment” clause, attempting to prevent people from posting ‘defamatory’ comments on social media.
The injunction was brought in the Chancery business division of the High Court and Ineos claimed it had no effect on human rights, even while boasting how wide-ranging it was.
Joe Corré fought the injunction in court, calling expert witnesses including police officers, and it was substantially trimmed after a first hearing.
Watch our interview with Joe shortly after that hearing:
The following year Vivienne Westwood challenged the injunction, preventing protests outside their London office, by holding a fashion show right outside their doors.
At the appeal court in 2019, Joe managed to get further restrictions on the injunction, throwing out clauses preventing protest on the public highway (including ‘slow walking’), and any protests at supply chain companies.
Since then, lawyers have argued about who should pay the substantial costs involved in the case, as well as further sections on trespass and private rights of way.
Finally after five years, the judge, Master Francesca Kaye, ruled that Ineos will have to pay all the campaigners’ costs, and struck out all Ineos’ claims against anyone breaching the injunction.
As Joe said in a further interview with Real Media, the law should not be for sale, but unfortunately this was an early model for recent government-backed injunctions used against climate protesters by ‘private’ companies such as Highways England.