Fuel protesters targeting the Stanlow Oil Refinery in Ellesmere Port have dismissed their spokesman following a Facebook dispute.
A row erupted after Ian Charlesworth posted a series of angry tirades peppered with four-letter words on the group’s Facebook page. Members also complained that he had invited the English Defence League and the British National Party to protests.
Founder member Kevin Bowker, a football referee from Chester, said: “We have parted company with Mr Charlesworth, due to myself and members of the group becoming increasingly unhappy with many of his ideas. The Stanlow Fuel Protest and Direct Action group will continue to run without him.”
Mr Charlesworth, a haulier from Hawarden, used the group’s Facebook page to accuse police of threatening women and children during a protest on May 8. He wrote: “The police went against the agreement we had. They turned back tractors, issued tickets to farmers and started bullying other vehicles. They held up the convoy from North Wales and kettled the Manchester group at Lymm away from the press. They had police dogs ready to be released into the protesters and tried to intimidate them by threatening women and children.”
Mr Charlesworth confirmed that he had left the group, but said this was caused by differences in how he and other members wanted to protest. He also accused group members of sending him hate mail after he left to form another protest group.
“The group has become a talking shop and people had stopped turning up to events,” he explained.
When asked why he had invited the EDL and the BNP, he said: “We agreed to speak to the EDL, the BNP and For England six weeks ago. I made contact with the EDL and the BNP with the backing of the group – but they never responded.”
Cheshire Police have denied Mr Charlesworth’s claims. Chief Inspector Damien Smethurst said: “We have been made aware of comments made on social networking sites regarding the policing of the fuel protest on 8 May. Cheshire Police have not been informed of, or received any complaints of, disruption to the road networks as a result of the mobile protests. There were approximately 60 foot protesters at the site at 6pm that evening.
“The role of the police in this situation is to uphold the law. The law allows for peaceful protest, but also requires that business can continue as usual. We liaised with the organisers well in advance of the protest and clear parameters regarding the nature of the motorway go-slow were set and agreed by all parties.
“There was no impact upon business activity at the site and throughout the protests, tankers continued to arrive and depart the refinery as normal. Throughout the protests, officers liaised with mobile and foot protestors in a civil manner, no arrests were made and we strongly refute any suggestion of threatening behaviour by officers deployed to police the protest.”
Ellesmere Port Pioneer