Greenpeace UK fined £80,000 for contempt after boarding oil rig

Greenpeace UK has been fined £80,000 for contempt of court after breaching a ban on an oil rig protest.

The judge considered a suspended jail sentence for one of the campaign group’s leaders – but decided to show “leniency”.

The BP rig was heading towards a North Sea oil field when Greenpeace activists clambered on board.

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise then shadowed the rig, holding her up for 12 days.

Rig owners Transocean legally secured a temporary ban on anyone connected to Greenpeace either boarding or coming within 500 metres of the platform.

Fourteen arrests were made.

During a virtual hearing at Scotland’s Court of Session, Greenpeace admitted breaching the order on two occasions.

Once when two activists joined others on board after the ban had been granted.

And again when the Arctic Sunrise sent boats to continue to dog the rig’s journey.

Judge Lady Wolffe dismissed the Greenpeace argument the breaches were not in contempt as the activists were acting of their own free choice.

The judge said: “Without Greenpeace’s active support and resources, none of those who attempted to board the rig would have been able to do so.

“There is no doubt that John Sauven was acting in his capacity as executive director of Greenpeace.

“He retained overall control and could have ended the action at any point.

“Most critically, he could have ended the action at the point where it breached the order.

“Greenpeace have exhibited wilful defiance of the order and they are guilty of contempt of court.”

Lady Wolffe said a suspended sentence for Mr Sauven was “in range” when considering how tough a sanction to impose.

“It is fundamental to the rule of law that court orders are obeyed,” she said.

“However, I intend to exercise leniency and confine this court’s sanction to a fine of Greenpeace.”

Mr Sauven said after the hearing:

“We are disappointed that BP’s rig operator Transocean has sought to punish us for trying to protect the planet.

“But our campaign does not end here, and we will continue to fight to stop the oil industry from wrecking our climate.”


About the Author

Philip Braund spent 16 years at the Daily Mirror as a reporter and news editor before moving to ITV. He was the series producer of the ground-breaking investigation programme The Cook Report, Managing Editor at ITV's Millbank Studios, and Head of News at ITV Central. He has won national and regional Royal Television Society awards for documentaries.

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