Tree protesters in Sheffield are being taken to court on the orders of the council leader, a judge has heard.
Labour’s Julie Dore, the leader since 2011, “positively agreed” with legal action against four Sheffield residents who were charged after demonstrating against plans to fell up to 17,000 trees, Sheffield high court heard.
Paul Brooke, Simon Crump, Benoit Benz Cumpin and Fran Grace could be sent to prison if they are found to have breached an injunction during protests in December and January.
Before the hearing began, the judge, Mr Justice Males, asked the council’s barrister to confirm that the case was being brought with the blessing of the council leader.
“This is a serious application. The council seeks to commit Sheffield citizens to prison for contempt,” said Males. He noted that judges, “like everybody else”, read newspapers and that he had read of a “moratorium” on tree felling, under which the chainsaws had fallen silent since March.
He said: “I would just like to be reassured that this application is brought on the instructions of democratically elected councillors. Do you have the instructions from the leader of the council to make this application?”