Case dropped against anti-frack couple

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A RETIRED council director who was arrested with his wife while meditating at the entrance to a gas drilling site have had the case against them dropped.

Jon Mager had his eyes closed, while his wife, a nationally-exhibited artist “talked quietly” to officers at the Rathlin Energy (UK) site at Walkington, near Beverley.

The couple said they had been exercising their legal right to protest on May 15, but faced charges of “using violence or intimidating another person with a view to compelling that person to abstain from doing an act which that person has a legal right to do.”

They had been due to stand trial at Beverley Magistrates Court on July 31, but their solicitors have now been informed the case has been discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Mrs Mager, 64, said her faith in the police had been shaken: “A year or so ago I was rung by Beverley police who asked me how I rated their performance and I gave them 10 out of 10 for everything.

“I don’t trust them at all. I think they are working for Rathlin.

“Without the protectors (who are camping at the Walkington and West Newton sites) coming, we would all be dozing asleep.”

She said the arrests intimidated people: “It’s saying; ‘If you do support them you will end up with this hanging over your head.”

Mr Mager, 63, a former director of Children, Family and Adult Services at East Riding Council added: “To say we were engaging in violence and intimidation was insulting and inaccurate.

“The charges against us were wrong, and it was a waste of public money to have allowed the matter to proceed this far.”

The couple said they had been buoyed by hundreds of messages of support - with strangers stopping them in the street to shake their hands.

Their solicitors were in the process of ensuring their good character was reinstated, they added.

Campaigners claim testing at the sites could be a precursor to full-scale fracking - using high-pressure liquids to let the gas flow out.

However Rathlin has repeatedly insisted that it is not and will not be fracking at either site.