A threat of legal action to restrict the freedom of speech of Scotland’s leading environmental campaign group director, Dr Richard Dixon, has today ended in a massive climb-down by the Australian company Dart Energy. 

Dr Richard Dixon was asked to stop tweeting about the organisation and threatened with legal action if he did not sign a letter that stated he would: take no involvement with any consultation to do with Dart’s activities, remove tweets from his twitter feed relating to Dart and refrain from posting any further comments about Dart’s activities. 

Dart cites Dr Dixon’s role as a SEPA board member as a conflict of interest as it awaits a decision from the Scottish Government about its’ plans. Dr Dixon always declares an interest at SEPA board meetings if there is an agenda item related to an active campaign of Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Reacting to a letter received today from Dart Energy which thanked the Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland for his reply and stated that they would no longer be pursuing legal action, Dr Richard Dixon said: 

“It’s a pretty scary experience to be faced with legal action from a multi-million pound company. This attempt to gag my comments has back-fired and instead it has brought the issues relating to fracking and coal bed methane extraction in Scotland to a larger audience. 

“Today I received a letter from Dart which was a climb-down on their previous correspondence and stated that since I was tweeting on behalf of Friends of the Earth Scotland they would not pursue the matter further. 

“Many more people have now learnt about our campaign and opposition to their proposals for coal bed methane extraction than if they had never got in touch threatening me with legal action. 

“This is an embarrassing climb-down for Dart and a victory for campaigners everywhere, Friends of the Earth Scotland and also freedom of speech.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. Correspondence between Dart Energy’s lawyers and Richard Dixon, Director Friends of the Earth Scotland is available at: http://foe-scotland.org.uk/node/1652 

2.’Dart Energy issues legal threat over Richard Dixon tweets’: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-24124933 

3. Friends of the Earth Scotland is: * Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation * An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland * Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent. www.foe-scotland.org.uk