North Sea rig protestors face court

watching: Police at the scene near the Greenpeace-occupied rig, Paul B Lloyd Jr
watching: Police at the scene near the Greenpeace-occupied rig, Paul B Lloyd Jr

Two Greenpeace campaigners faced court yesterday accused of tethering themselves to an oil rig in an ongoing demonstration.

Protesters have occupied the BP-contracted Paul B Lloyd Jr rig in the Cromarty Firth since Sunday.

And as two people appeared in court in connection with the stand-off, lifeboat crews were scrambled to the scene amid safety fears.

Invergordon RNLI launched after reports protesters were in a “precarious position” and may not have life jackets on.

It was later stood down after the pair moved to a safer part of the platform.

A Coastguard spokesman said: “The lifeboat was sent to make sure no harm was experienced by anyone.”

At Tain Sheriff Court yesterday, two other protesters were accused of breaching the peace.

Christopher Till and Paula Radley denied that, while acting with others, they conducted themselves in a disorderly manner, boarded the rig and refused to leave.

It is alleged they tethered themselves to the platform, putting themselves in danger and preventing others going about their business from June 9-11.

The case against Till, 37, of Browns Road in London, and Radley, 31, of Bull Stag Green in Hartfield, will call again next month.

A warrant was issued for a third campaigner, Paul Morozzo, of Moorfield in Hebdon Bridge.

A trial date for August was fixed.

Last night, a Greenpeace spokesman said the charity was supporting the protesters in court and the occupation of the rig continued “unimpeded”.

He also confirmed the two protesters on board, sheltering on a gantry behind a large red climate emergency banner, were receiving “round-the-clock” welfare support.

It is understood police have established a command centre at the Invergordon Port Authority building as they monitor the protest, which is designed to prevent the rig from leaving the Cromarty Firth for the Vorlich field.

And the police presence was also significant in Cromarty yesterday.

Uniform and plain clothes officers manned a community contact unit on the foreshore, with direct line of sight to the rig – though driving rain and thick fog obscured it for much of the day.

A police dinghy patrolled the waters around the platform, one of two deployed from Cromarty harbour.

Two large marine policing units were also at the harbour.

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