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Fracking flares up

A few days ago a flare was allegedly fired at a police helicopter which was landing near the Barton Moss anti-fracking protests. At the time the allegations were strenuously denied by the organisers.

Rachel Thompson from Frack Free Greater Manchester said: “We refute this claim. Greater Manchester Police have refused to show any evidence of this alleged incident."

However, James Verdon has been looking around the activists' social media and has discovered that the identity of the culprit is well known to those in the camp including, apparently, Rachel Thompson, the organiser who issued the original denial.

Well Rachel Thompson can in her words "refute absolutely these claims" but the cruel truth is that several of us know who did this, why it was done and the reasons behind the present cover up (bad PR in short).

There are simply too many people who saw it happen to try and claim it was a cop fit up when it wasn't. I'm not in any way defending what the cops did and I was one of those who had their tent turned over by them but IMHO we are better off telling the truth, booting out the twat who did it (without informing cops of course) and moving on. This issue is too important to let it become another 'Us v Cops' slanging match (climate camp ! ) that obscures the important reason for the protesting.

Read James' article and the activists' website.

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Reader Comments (28)

I guess being economical with the truth comes easy to this group of people, as does their flouting of the law and concealing those who put others lives in danger. Scumbags one and all.

Jan 10, 2014 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

" @ Fracking objector

09.01.2014 12:57
Perhaps before writing the post here you could have consided the effect on the campaign of the negative publicity that will result. The individual considered is no longer with the group so nothing is served giving the media a stck to beat us with.

Rachel "


" Comments

10.01.2014 11:13
My comments are no longer relevant as the individual has left.

Please stop talking about this, it does not serve the needs of the protest

Rachel "

If the site and comments are genuine then the morale of this Rachel Thompson person is truly incredible. And she probably really thinks that she represents the forces of good.

Jan 10, 2014 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterSven

All those anti Fracking Anarchists wont be outside the Mancester drilling site they are all on their way down to Tottenham this weekend for drug dealer Mark Duggan verdict protests.

Jan 10, 2014 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Hmmm - Perverting the Course of Justice anyone ?

Jan 10, 2014 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

The word "perjury of justice", vaguely comes to mind.

Jan 10, 2014 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw


No, but it could be aiding and abetting I think.

Jan 10, 2014 at 1:11 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

I wrote "...the morale of this Rachel Thompson person is truly incredible". Not just the morale. Considering the fact that she writes all this on a publicly available site makes her also probably not the sharpest pencil in the box. All this still with the caveat that it's all genuine, of course.

Jan 10, 2014 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterSven


Open and shut given its a written admission.

Jan 10, 2014 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

"Accessory after the fact" comes to mind.

Jan 10, 2014 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

The charge should be 'accessory after the fact', and if any formal statement was made to the police, 'perverting the course of justice'. Not sure if the cops are still looking for the hooligan though.

Jan 10, 2014 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

cosmic beat me to it by two minutes.

Jan 10, 2014 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx


"Not sure if the cops are still looking for the hooligan though."


Yes, I believe that with any of this they would need to be prosecuting the alleged perpetrator.

However, since she's admitted to knowing who did this, in public, and is keeping his identity from the police and advising others to do the same (very foolish), I can't believe she wouldn't be up for something if the police noticed and wished to follow up.

Withholding evidence?

Jan 10, 2014 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

I think "aiding an offender" is the current favourite charge but accessory after the fact, attempting to pervert the course of justice, obstructing the police all come to mind.
As someone commented to me after Balcombe, various other charges including impersonating a human being and going equipped to commit idiocy would come in very useful.

Jan 10, 2014 at 2:27 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Has anyone pointed this out to GMP?

At the very least there is perverting the course of justice as a potential charge for covering up the truth.

Jan 10, 2014 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Mike Jackson,

I think if the police questioned her on this and she co-operated, she wouldn't be done for not going to them and volunteering what she knew - practically if not theoretically.

If she didn't co-operate, especially in the light of what she's written, I think it would be section 4 of the Criminal Law Act 1967

I don't know how particular they would be about naming the charge. "Assisting an offender" seems like it.

"going equipped to commit idiocy".


Jan 10, 2014 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

I do trust the Police will interview Rachel Thompson again in the light of this new revelation.
If not I think I will make a complaint to them about perverting the course of justice.

Jan 10, 2014 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

The truly odious Gannett Media Group via their UK subsidiary Newsquest UK weigh into the fracking arena again.

This is just one of a steady drizzle of similarly pitched articles which have some or all of the following features:

*anti fracking protestors given an uncritical platform
*shutting off comments
*skewing the content layout dramatically to spin up the protestors case

This has become commonplace in Newsquest SW UK titles it maybe just a regional editor / sub - but after watching it for over a year now - it's deliberate.

Jan 10, 2014 at 7:38 PM | Registered Commentertomo

It is good to know that at least one of the protesters has a conscience.

Jan 10, 2014 at 9:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Firing a flare at a helicopter is a shocking and criminal action, but really shouldn't we start with condemning them for physically blocking and harassing people going about their work? Isn't that bad enough?

Jan 10, 2014 at 11:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

I wonder why we expect honesty from these protesters. Or anyone else...

Honesty is a feature of the character of someone who has been brought up properly, but everyone's characters (mine included) are subject to modification by the society we live in. This influence, provided by the senior members of society, is often referred to as 'leadership'.

We live in a society today which has become noticeably more blatant in corruption than that of 50 years ago. It is no longer unheard of for an MP to be jailed for fraud. The police do themselves no favours when they defend one of their own who tried to fit up a Whip. We are so accustomed to hear senior members of the establishment lying that we no longer comment about it.

Rachel Thompson's morals are simply shaped by the culture she lives in. I suspect that she will soon find out that there is one law for the powerful and quite another for the proles - but she was doing no more than any recent Prime Minister does when he asks a minister to resign for a few months because he was silly enough to be caught taking bribes.

Jan 11, 2014 at 12:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Seems like "conspiracy" would also be part of the possible charges, now that Rachel has been seen to be trying to hush everyone up about it.

Jan 11, 2014 at 12:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterLynn Clark

Dodgy, indeed. After all, if she does go to jail for a few months for attempting to pervert, the Guardian will give her a job as soon as she gets out...

Jan 11, 2014 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterNW

I note that they don't understand the distinction between the meaning of the words 'deny' and 'refute' - i.e to refute an an allegation you need to prove it, not just deny its true

Still, I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised at that should we ;o)

Jan 11, 2014 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterratty

I see Total are going to invest in fracking in the UK.

I just wonder if there will be enough protesters to go round :-)

Jan 11, 2014 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Elliot

I see the damage limitation/PR comments have now clarified things on -

10.01.2014 18:37
Hi all,

The person posting under the name Rachel is a troll and is not the Rachel Thompson mentioned in the article. Unfortunately, anybody can post under any name on here. No flare has ever been fired from Barton Moss Protection Camp and we are now in discussions with lawyers over the actions of Greater Manchester Police.

Frack Free Greater Manchester

11.01.2014 13:09

If you were actually on camp this wouldn't be news to you, what would have been news would be that there was a flare, considering it did not happen. Feel free to ask anybody else on camp about the legal action as we have a pretty good team of lawyers working on it.

Frack Free Gtr Manchester

"pretty good team of lawyers working on it." ?

not bad for -
"A network of individuals, independent and alternative media activists and organisations, offering grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues."

Jan 11, 2014 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterdougieh

Hard to square "considering it did not happen" with James V's remark about "simply too many people who saw it happen". I hope the protestors know that lawyers will represent anyone with deep enough pockets...

Jan 13, 2014 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

The lawyers have clearly told them to deny everything. The wording of "from the camp" is carefully chosen. No doubt they are defining the boundaries of their camp to exclude the place the flare was launched.

Jan 13, 2014 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Have you noticed just how often the police, when questioned about their lack of action to stop threatening activity and intimidation, constantly refer to 'the right to protest', and then let the 'protesters' get on with the violence and disruption? They overdo their protection of these people, they are cowardly, and are afraid of tackling them. The rest of us have the right to go about our lawful business which ought to be regarded as more important than the narrow self interest and revolutionary politics of those out to cause trouble.

Jan 14, 2014 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Prangwizard of England

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