Green Party MP Caroline Lucas denies Balcombe fracking charges

MP charged with one count of breaching section 14 of the Public Order Act and one count of wilful obstruction of the highway

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has pleaded not guilty to offences she allegedly committed during anti-fracking protests.

The MP for Brighton Pavilion appeared at Crawley Magistrates' Court today charged with one count of breaching section 14 of the Public Order Act and one count of wilful obstruction of the highway. Both offences are alleged to have taken place outside the Cuadrilla exploratory drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex, on August 19.

Ms Lucas, 52, wearing a brown dress and plum-coloured cardigan smiled as she entered the dock.

She confirmed her name, date of birth and Brighton address before entering her not guilty pleas.

Ms Lucas was released on unconditional bail and was told she could leave the dock while a trial date was fixed.

A handful of supporters, including former page three girl-turned politician Marina Baker listened to proceedings at the back of the court.

Ms Lucas was one of at least 25 protesters arrested during the day of direct action.

In an open letter to her constituents, posted on her blog, the Brighton Pavilion MP said she wanted them to be the first to know that she would be pleading not guilty to the charges.

Ms Lucas said there was "a proud tradition of non-violent direct action in this country".

She said: "In joining the peaceful protest I wanted to send a clear message to the Government, and to support the people at the proposed fracking site in Balcombe who were standing up to be counted.

"It's likely that there will be a trial next year. I want to reassure you that you will be able to contact me as usual, and I will continue to hold my weekly surgeries, attend local meetings and represent Brighton Pavilion in parliamentary debates.

"Thanks to everyone who's been in touch to offer their support, and I hope this open letter goes some way towards explaining why I believe in the importance of "speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly" - a phrase from Gandhi that continues to resonate today."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence