Protester who climbed fracking rig says he had human right to do it

Dr Peter Whittick was convicted following the protest
Dr Peter Whittick was convicted following the protest

A man who climbed a huge piece of fracking machinery and refused to come down for ten hours is challenging his sentence on human rights grounds.

Dr Peter Whittick was convicted at Brighton Magistrate’s Court following a trial in February.

Dr Whittick on top of the rig

Dr Whittick on top of the rig

But now the activist and academic is appealing his conviction, arguing that his actions were justified because of his human rights.

Dr Whittick, 53, said at Hove Crown Court today: “I am referring to my right to Freedom of Conscience.

“To take action driven by my belief in the dangers of man made climate change.”

Judge Shani Barnes said: “We are not here to decide whether fracking is in fact dangerous what we are here to decide is if you were in circumstances action responsibility exercising human rights.

The fracking rig that Dr Whittick climbed

The fracking rig that Dr Whittick climbed

“The offence is a very simple and straightforward offence.

“It has nothing to do with fracking.”

Dr Whittick was arrested on September 7, last year, after spending ten hours on an oil rig lorry at Pease Pottage service station.

It was on its way to Lidsey from the Broadford Bridge drill site.

His magistrate’s court trial heard how he was spotted on it at 2.30am but refused to get off it in a bid to delay oil well testing, the court heard.

He was charged with hindering rig owner British Drilling and Freezing Ltd, from carrying out its lawful business.

Sentencing Dr Whittick at the trial, district judge Christopher James, said: “It is clear Dr Whittick is of good character and is a conscientious man, who wanted to attract the attention of the press to make an end to fracking, but this is not a defence. The driver was not able to continue his job for ten hours, making his total working day 21 hours. “There was no evidence the vehicle was unroadworthy and there was nothing unlawful about the driving. “It is clear Dr Whittick’s actions hindered the vehicle from carrying out its lawful business. “What he did was unreasonable and unlawful and he is guilty of the offence charged.”

Dr Whittick’s appeal will continue today and tomorrow at Hove Crown Court.

The case continues.