Supreme Court to hear landmark case on ‘anti-traveller’ injunctions

A legal challenge against ‘persons unknown’ injunctions, used against Gypsy and Traveller communities and environmental protesters, will be heard at the Supreme Court today.

A range of Gypsy, Traveller and environmental organisations have brought the case against the use of ‘borough-wide injunctions’ which effectively ban anyone from stopping on public land.

Since 2015, a number of local authorities have applied the injunctions, including Ealing, Rochdale and Wolverhampton, which has contributed to a shortage of sites and stopping places.

Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT), London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT) and Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group (DGLG) have appealed against the injunctions, with support from Friends of the Earth and advocacy group Liberty.

white and gray camper trailer on green grass field

Abbie Kirkby, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers said: ‘We are determined to continue challenging the discriminatory and disproportionate use of these injunctions. If local authorities do not identify suitable stopping places for nomadic communities, then they must not be allowed to use punitive measures to cover up their failings. There are common sense solutions to addressing the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers, that work with families, not against them.’

‘Persons unknown’ injunctions have also been used against environmental protesters, including by fossil fuel companies. Shell obtained an injunction to tackle protesters blocking petrol stations last year.

Injunctions have also been used secured across the entire HS2 route and a controversial landfill site in Newcastle-Upon-Lyme to block environmental demonstrations.

Friends of the Earth successfully blocked an injunction by oil and gas giant INEOS at the Court of Appeal in 2019, with the injunction rule unlawful and reduced in scope.

Friends of the Earth’s Head of Political Affairs, Legal and Planning, Dave Timms, said: ‘Friends of the Earth has seen first-hand the chilling effect that ‘persons unknown’ injunctions can have on legitimate peaceful protest by communities desperately concerned about the impact that unwelcome fossil fuel developments, such as fracking, can have on their families, homes and countryside.

‘The growing trend to take out persons unknown injunctions is completely out of control and is rapidly becoming the go-to measure to creating a confusing system of bespoke public order laws for major corporations and councils.

‘We hope a definitive ruling from the Supreme Court will uphold the principle of the right to a fair trial and ensure injunctions don’t undermine the human rights of Gypsies, Travellers and peaceful protestors.’

Photo by Kristaps Ungurs


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