EDF drops lawsuit against campaigners
The energy company EDF has dropped a £5m civil lawsuit against 21 activists who occupied one of its power plants last year.
Campaigners from around the country had united in their condemnation of the lawsuit which they said would undermine peaceful protest in the UK.
The company also faced a huge outcry from the public over the move with 64,000 people signing a petition against the action with hundreds more pledging to switch electricity company.
The demonstrators, from the No Dash for Gas protest group, described the move as "humiliating climbdown" by the power company.
The graphic designer Hannah Davey, one of the activists named in the suit, told the Guardian the end of the civil action was a substantial victory for the campaign. "EDF's bullying lawsuit has bitten the dust because people power fought back," she said. "They thought they were taking on 21 of us, but they soon faced a movement that stood with us against an energy giant and its lawyers … only a few of us went up that chimney, but 64,000 people came down."
Another activist, Danielle Paffard, told the Guardian. "EDF has sustained an unmitigated defeat," she said. "A domineering company with an appalling record of pollution was trying to break the climate movement with a lawsuit they thought would silence opposition, but they failed. Our campaign to expose the lie behind the new dash for gas will continue, with a growing movement and new allies."
EDF said it dropped the civil action as part of a settlement. The company said in a statement, "The protesters, who have all pleaded guilty in court to aggravated trespass, have agreed in principle to accept a permanent injunction which prevents them from entering multiple sites operated by EDF Energy. As a result of this, EDF Energy is dropping its claim for civil damages against them and believes that this is a fair and reasonable solution."
The activists still face potential prison sentences as a result of criminal charges in relation to the occupation. All 21 pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated trespass, 17 of the defendants will be sentenced on 20th March. The remaining four will be sentenced on 2nd April.
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