Blacklisted protestor continues power station demo as energy firm fails to win injunction

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) is considering applying to the county court for an injunction to stop an unemployed electrician protesting outside one of its sites.

It recently failed to get an injunction in the High Court to remove the protestor from outside its Fiddler’s Ferry power station near Widnes, Merseyside.

A spokeswoman said the company was advised by the High Court judge that a county court would be more suitable for its efforts to have an injunction for trespass served on unemployed electrician Stephen Acheson. He worked at the power station as a sub-contractor for contractor BMSL, a construction industry specialist, until he lost his job last year.

His solicitors, Walker Smith Way (WSW), said the Unite union member is “one of more than 3,000 workers whose names appeared on an illegal blacklist used by more than 40 construction firms which was uncovered by the Information Commissioner last year”.

The 56-year-old father of two from Manchester has been protesting for more than 46 weeks about the loss of his job and the blacklist – and against BMSL, not SSE.

SSE said it wanted an injunction to compel him to move off its property and also said it believes his protest threatens its staff and site security.

But, in the High Court, Mr Justice Mann rejected the company’s view that Acheson was a threat to security.

He said the notion was “fantasy bordering on the edge of paranoia”.

Acheson’s solicitor, Mike Keenan of WSW said: “The judge accepted our argument that there was no evidence to suggest that Acheson intended to enter the site and his protest had been restricted to appearing on the pathway at the entrance and displaying banners.”

Keenan added that SSE did not produce evidence to show that it owned the land in question.

He also said that SSE originally attempted to get its injunction “without notice” which would have meant that Acheson would not have been given key details such as time and place.

SSE said it had “tried to talk to [Acheson] on a number of occasions to explain our position and to bring an end to this issue”. It added that applying for the injunction was “a last resort to protect our staff and the security of our site”.

“The High Court has indicated that this injunction would be more appropriately pursued in the local county court and that is what we now intend to do.

“We are pleased that during the hearing at the High Court Mr Acheson gave his undertaking to stop trespassing on our land and to refrain from threatening our staff and visitors to the power station.”

But Keenan told Personnel Today that Acheson had not given any such undertaking and is continuing with his one-man protest.

SSE also said that Acheson “has been a long-term protestor since concerns about the use of foreign workers on construction sites. We have confirmed on a number of occasions that we do not employ foreign workers at Fiddler’s Ferry power station, however Acheson has continued to protest at the site”.

But Keenan said Acheson had never protested about the use of foreign labour at power stations. He added that WSW will continue to press for a “just outcome” to Acheson’s “grievances regarding his dismissal and blacklisting”.

Since his dismissal four years ago, Acheson has been employed for 16 weeks in total.

SSE was also ordered to pay Acheson’s costs which are believed to be about £10,000.

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