Tree campaigners to sue police over arrests

Tree felling in Rustlings Road, Sheffield.
Tree felling in Rustlings Road, Sheffield.

Campaigners arrested during protests against tree-felling in Sheffield are to take legal action South Yorkshire Police.

The 14 activists – including Alison Teal, the Green Party councillor for Nether Edge and Sharrow, and two women aged in their 70s, Jenny Hockey and Freda Brayshaw – all had allegations dropped against them by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Senior lawyers said there was a lack of evidence and that charges were not in the public interest.

The group say they will be ‘challenging the legality of their arrests, charges, and time spent in detention and on bail’.

Arrests had been made under Trade Union legislation, which includes provisions which allow workers to be prevented from being obstructed.

Campaigner Calvin Payne, who was detained while protesting against the felling of a 100-year-old tree in Nether Edge last November, said: “We are not going to accept 14 arrests for something that does not appear to have been a crime.

“We look forward to holding all those responsible to account.”

Last week Dr Alan Billings, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, said there was ‘no mileage’ in making further arrests under union laws and that the CPS was ‘not prepared to criminalise peaceful protesters’.

He said police officers should ‘not go down this route as it will not go anywhere’.

“The CPS are not willing to take to court people arrested under trade union laws as it is not in the public interest,” said Dr Billings.

“There is no mileage for police to make those arrests under that type of legislation.”