By Alex Thomson
Once upon a time there was a power station. And a lake. And a village next to the lake.
One day, the men in charge of the power station decided they had to do something with all the ash produced by burning so much coal at the power station.
"I know," they said, "let's fill in the lake with half a million tons of ash. OK - so it contains arsenic, but not that much. I'm sure the council in Oxford will say yes, that's ok."
"Yes - that's ok, " said the people in the planning department.
But the villagers were not at all happy. They protested.
And there, dear viewer, things would have stayed. Until Npower, which runs Didcot power station, suddenly did something extraordinary. They went along to the High Court one afternoon and got an injunction which is so wide-ranging it not only bans peaceful protest at or near the site of the lake, but it bans the media, or you, or anybody else, from filming the company as it goes about destroying the woods around the lake prior to filling it in.
The protesters and the media hadn't got a clue this was happening. They had no chance to put their side of the case. The only evidence the company produced in court was a bunch of largely anonymous witness statements from their security guards, who claimed they were harassed by protesters. Not one of these people was even in court, let alone cross-examined.
And so it is in Britain today. Under the Protection from Harassment Act of 1997 things which we claim to hold dear: freedom of peaceful protest, assembly, the press, have been disappeared at a stroke by High Court judges who only ever hear one side of the argument with 'evidence' which would be contested in any other kind of court sitting.
Corporations adore it since it stops any kind of meaningful protest. And politicians too seem quite happy to let all this simply continue behind closed doors.
At Radley Lake there has - Thames Valley Police tell us - not been a single arrest for any violent offience whatsoever. And yet a campaign of harassment was built on those witness statements and the protest and the ability of the media to cover it were shut down at a stroke.
So there you have it. Freedoms which people in this land fought long and hard for over centuries, are dispensed with at a stroke by uncontested evidence in a court.
Make no mistake. It's coming to a protest near you, unless somebody, somewhere, somehow gets up and decides that the Protection from Harassment Act needs rethinking from top to bottom.
You have been warned.
Oh! And you have also been injuncted, because as soon as you know about this injunction you are covered by it. Film or take pictures of what's happening to Radley Lake and you are looking at a maximimum of five years inside.
You have been warned (again).
READ FULL HISTORY OF LOCAL PROTEST HERE