A copy of the Memorandum of Understanding between Greater Manchester Police, fracking company Igas, and other agencies shows the police broke their own agreed code of conduct in dealing with anti-fracking protests.
The Memorandum states that its purpose was to “facilitate peaceful protest” (1.1) and that “Police Officers must only use the minimum amount of lawful force” (Appendix 11, Page 23). However the collapse of the majority of the cases brought against the Protectors of Barton Moss has repeatedly shown police using excessive force and making unnecessary and often unlawful arrests.
Curiously the Memorandum says Igas will “Lead on all media communication, both proactive and reactive“. (Appendix 1, Page 10). However this did not stop GMP engaging in a propaganda offensive against the Protectors which included the repeated claims that a flare was fired at a police helicopter, an allegation for which no evidence has been presented other than the reported account of two unnamed police officers.
The document also states that Barton Moss Road “has been identified as a highway” (2.2), a legal mistake that resulted in everyone arrested for the crime of Obstructing the Public Highway on Barton Moss Road being acquitted.
An Independent Panel on Protests and Demonstrating, set up by Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd and Chaired by Martin Miller, Secretary of the Diocese of Manchester, has investigated the policing of the protests at Barton Moss and is currently finalising its report.
Martin Porter of Frack Free Greater Manchester said “Greater Manchester Police could have done with reading their own Memorandum before they started acting as Igas’s private police force. There are many questions still to be answered about the policing of the protest, such as why were so many Protectors injured, why were so many people arrested on charges that failed to stand up in court and did dozens of CCTV cameras miss the alleged flare? Hopefully the report from Tony Lloyd’s Independent Panel will give us some answers soon.”