Balcombe: MP To Be Prosecuted

Brighton Green Party MP Caroline Lucas is to be prosecuted after taking part in anti-fracking demonstrations.

The Brighton Pavilion MP, who was arrested last month during protests outside the Cuadrilla drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex, will be prosecuted for "breaching a police order on public assemblies and wilful obstruction of the highway'', the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Nigel Pilkington, a senior lawyer with the Crown Prosecution Service South East, said: "Following an investigation by Sussex Police, the Crown Prosecution Service has received a file of evidence in relation to Ms Caroline Lucas MP, who was arrested during the anti-fracking demonstrations at the Cuadrilla drilling site in Balcombe last month.

"After careful consideration, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to prosecute Ms Lucas for breaching a police order on public assemblies and wilful obstruction of the highway.''

He said Sussex Police had been authorised to charge Ms Lucas with one count of breach of a section 14 order contrary to section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986, and one count of wilful obstruction of the highway contrary to section 137 of the Highways Act 1980.

Both offences are alleged to have taken place on 19 August 2013.

Mr Pilkington said the decision had been taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the Director of Public Prosecution's guidance on cases involving public protest.

He said: "These are summary offences which can only be tried at magistrates' court.''

Ms Lucas will appear at Crawley Magistrates' Court on October 9.

Ms Lucas confirmed she had been charged and said she remained "deeply concerned'' about the impact of fracking.

She said: "Sussex police have today confirmed I am being charged with two offences arising out of my arrest in Balcombe on August 19.

"One of the offences is for obstructing the highway. The other is for failing to comply with a police condition to move to a specified protest area.

"I firmly believe in the right to peaceful protest and remain deeply concerned about the impact of fracking on climate change and the wider environment.

"I have been advised by my lawyer to make no further comment at this stage.''