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Warrant issued for activist charged with breaching pipeline injunction

Warrant issued for activist charged with breaching pipeline injunction
Warrant issued for activist charged with breaching pipeline injunction

A High Court judge has issued a warrant for the arrest of a ‘known tunnel boring machine’ who is accused of breaching an injunction preventing environmental protesters from disrupting work on a 105km long aviation fuel pipeline.

Activist Scott Breen, 48, is said to have ‘flouted’ the terms of a court order forcing him to leave a pit he dug next to the M25 at Runnymede in Surrey in a bid to disrupt operations of the oil company Esso.

Following a short hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Friday, Mrs Justice Heather Williams ordered a warrant for his arrest so that Mr Breen could be returned for contempt of court next week.

Esso’s lawyers argue that Mr Breen should be jailed for his alleged breach of the High Court injunction.

Protester Scott Breen, pictured in February 2021 (Dominic Lipinski/PA) / PA Archives

The protester was previously part of a group of activists who occupied a network of tunnels under a small park next to Euston station in central London in January last year as part of a protest against the line of HS2 railway.

The Southampton to London Pipeline project, which received development permission in October 2020, aims to replace 90km of pipeline between Boorley Green in Hampshire and Esso’s West Terminal storage facility at Hounslow, near the Heathrow Airport.

Replacing the pipeline originally built in 1972, it will help keep 100 tankers a day off the road, Esso claims, and is expected to be completed next year.

The project was targeted by protesters who interfered with the equipment and “attacked” it with angle grinders, the court was previously told.

Esso Petroleum Company Limited, owned by ExxonMobil, won an interim injunction against Mr Breen and “unknown persons” at a hearing last month.

The company had sought an order applying only to acts “with the intent to prevent or hinder the construction of the Southampton to London pipeline project”, a judge has heard.

Mr Breen had 72 hours to remove himself from law enforcement, Judge Eyre said in his August ruling.

Timothy Morshead QC, representing Esso on Friday, said in written submissions that Mr Breen was a “known tunnel boring machine” who had “a considerable record of protest elsewhere, including defiance”.

He said the activist had “fluffed that part of the order specifically directed at him by ignoring the requirement that he leave his excavations”, adding that his presence had prevented contractors from progressing work in the area. .

Voluntary participation is extremely unlikely

The lawyer added that Mr Breen allegedly breached the order and “aggravated his contempt by fortifying his presence” and “bragged about it to the press”.

Mr Morshead said if Mr Breen left the Chertsey site to come to court his “fortifications” could be cleared, but added that his “voluntary participation is extremely unlikely”.

Mr Morshead suggested that “nothing less than a custodial sentence is required” in Mr Breen’s case, adding that “taking into account the aggravating factors, a sentence of the order of six months’ imprisonment is appropriate”.

Annabel Timan, representing Mr Breen, who was believed to still be at the site at the time of the hearing, said in written submissions that he wanted to comply with the restraining order and engage with the court.

She said he “undertakes” to vacate the premises within 72 hours of receiving legal advice – by Sunday – and asked for time to remove all his belongings.

Ms Timan said Mr Breen was “motivated by deeply held beliefs” and did not accept that he breached the part of the injunction ordering him to leave “any search” within 72 hours of being served with it.

She said Mr Breen had argued that a wooden structure was not “an excavation he made” and that he claimed he only had the first part of the criminal notice read to him and not the full terms of the order.

Mr Breen did not read the documents, followed oral advice to leave the tunnel and did not know he would breach the injunction by extending the wooden structure and causing an obstruction, Ms Timan said.

“An oral instruction was given to the accused to leave the tunnel; it left a distinct impression that that was all that was needed,” she said.

Madam Justice Heather Williams ordered Mr Breen to appear in court for a short hearing on Monday, ahead of committal proceedings due to be held on Tuesday.

. warrant issued against activist accused of having violated the injunction of a pipeline

. Warrant issued activist charged breaching pipeline injunction

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