Caroline Lucas has been found not guilty of wilful obstruction and a public order offence while she protested against fracking at Balcombe last summer.
The Brighton Pavilion MP was standing trial for her part in a protest outside the site where Cuadrilla was undertaking exploratory drilling on Monday 19 August.
A large group gathered outside the court waiting to greet and cheer the Green MP.
Thanks so much for all messages of support – This is victory for whole movement against dirty fracking & for cleaner energy #frackingontrial
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) April 17, 2014
Speaking on the court steps, she said: “We’re very pleased that the court upheld our right to peacefully protest against fracking but the judgement is not a victory or cause for celebration.
“We will continue to campaign to end fracking and only celebrate when our world is on the path to a clean energy future.”
She said she was prepared to go to prison for protest, but admitted “that was never on the cards.”
Hove Green councillor Christopher Hawtree reports on Twitter that mothers on buses are holding their children up to see the crowd.
It says that Ms Lucas was acquitted of the public order offence as police failed to prove she had requisite notice of the order made under Section 14 of the Public Order Act, which had directed protesters to assemble in a designated area.
Ms Lucas had told the court she had briefly scanned the order, found it incomprehensible, and then lost it when a banner was unfurled.
The prosecution also failed to prove that any actual obstruction of the highway had taken place, as opposed to the hypothetical obstruction of emergency vehicles.
Last summer, Ms Lucas linked arms with a group of protesters outside the site, four of whom also stood trial alongside her at Brighton Magistrates’ Court – Josef Dobraszczyk, 22, from Bristol; Ruth Jarman, 50, from Hook, Hampshire; Sheila Menon, 42, from north east London; and Ruth Potts, 39, from Totnes, Devon.
All five have been found not guilty of two charges, wilful obstruction of a public highway and breaching an order under Section 14 of the Public Order Act which required protesters to use a designated protest area nearby.
Lucas told the court she “wanted to express solidarity” by protesting peacefully against the use of fossil fuels.
News of her acquittal is being greeted with jubilation by her supporters on Twitter.
— Friends of the Earth (@wwwfoecouk) April 17, 2014
— Angry Voter (@caspbird) April 17, 2014
Made up the hear Caroline Lucas has been found not guilty. Absolutely farcical arrest/court case.
— Adam Bennett (@adbennoEFC) April 17, 2014