Sheffield tree campaigner: I don't regret Facebook post that could see me jailed

Coun Alison Teal and Calvin Payne pictured outside Sheffield Crown Court this afternoon
Coun Alison Teal and Calvin Payne pictured outside Sheffield Crown Court this afternoon

A Sheffield tree campaigner, who could be facing up to two years in prison after being found in contempt of court over a Facebook post he made that encouraged others to break a High Court injunction, says he does not regret what he wrote.

Calvin Payne appeared at the High Court in Sheffield yesterday when Mr Justice Stephen Males determined he had breached the injunction with a post made in the Save Netherthorpe Trees group on October 6 this year.

Mr Payne wrote: “What I would really like is for as many people as possible to break the injunction on Monday morning.”

Justice Males has now adjourned the case to consider the five other allegations Mr Payne has to answer to.

Mr Payne will return to the High Court in Sheffield on Friday, when he could face up to two years in prison.

When asked if he regretted making the post, Mr Payne, said outside court this afternoon: "No, I don't. It reflects my genuine feelings. I've had a consistent position throughout, and throughout two and a half years. It didn't change when I was arrested, it didn't change when my case collapsed, it didn't change when I went to the High Court, it hasn't changed today. The law must decide what the law is. I believe we're in a pretty sorry state of affairs when preventing ecological destruction on our streets is against the law, but the destruction itself is fully within."

Commenting on whether he was afraid of being sent to prison when the case resumes on Friday, Mr Payne continued: "It's something I've been prepared for for sometime now, it appears that the one of the most substantive parts of the case, us being inside the barriers preventing felling, is at least open to question.

"It's collapsed in Alison Teal's case, it's being questioned in my case. There doesn't seem to be evidence that we were within fully-formed barriers.

"That seems to be the situation, but we'll see, the Judge has said he's going to go away and consider the evidence and whether we've been within actual delineated barriers."

Appearing at court along side Mr Payne, was Green Party councillor Alison Teal and resident Siobhan O’Malley.

The case was dismissed against Ms Teal and Ms O’Malley’s case was adjourned.

All three were accused of breaching an injunction obtained by Sheffield City Council earlier this year, aimed at stopping the direct action which had plagued its contractor Amey’s attempts to fell hundreds of trees.

Ms Teal was accused of one breach of the injunction relating to being inside safety barriers around a tree in Kenwood Road on September 25.

After legal argument about the ‘delineation’ of a safety zone, and whether there were any gaps in said zone, the judge dismissed the case against the councillor.

Mr Justice Males said: “He said: “My clear impression from the evidence is that I cannot be sure to the criminal standard of proof that she was there when there was no gap.”

Ms O’Malley’s case will also be heard at the High Court at Sheffield on Friday.