Activists found never to have fired on Greater Manchester Police
A POLICE allegation that anti-fracking activists fired a flare at a police helicopter has been disproven in an independent report released yesterday.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said protesters had fired the flare during a demonstration against petrochemicals drilling at the Barton Moss site on January 16.
Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd ordered an investigation into the claim that protesters had tried to ground the aircraft.
Chief Superintendent Mark Roberts had called it “an unbelievably stupid act of criminality which was extremely dangerous not only for the police helicopter, but all other aircraft that use the nearby Barton airfields and the wider public.”
But an investigation by the Independent Panel on Policing and Protests found no evidence to support the allegation.
Four sets of cameras on the helicopter, the nearby airport and around the fracking site failed to capture the alleged missile attack.
No witnesses were presented by GMP other than its own officer, who has not been named and whose statement has not been made public.
“For Greater Manchester Police to then claim that these peaceful protesters launched a terrorist attack is totally unacceptable,” said Frack Free Greater Manchester (FFFGM) spokesman Martin Porter.
“We must find out the truth of this matter.
“If this story was made up to discredit peaceful protesters and justify repressive policing, then there must be consequences.”
But the group said the report left questions unanswered, such as whether police had daily arrest quotas at anti-fracking protests.