ANTI-FRACKING protesters celebrated outside York Magistrates' Court after being cleared of all offences over their occupation of a drilling rig.

Prosecution witnesses told the court the actions of Alec Geoffrey Cohen, 30, Luke Whatley, 28, both of no fixed address, and Sibi Moore, 22, of Carmarthen, on the Third Energy site near Kirby Misperton cost the company £85,000 in lost work and payments to lorry contractors.

The total also included £45,000 to a specialist unit to remove Mr Whatley and Ms Moore from a platform 60 feet up the rig on October 22 after they had spent 31 hours there. Mr Cohen came down voluntarily after 12 hours, the court heard.

All three were charged with causing criminal damage to the site’s boundary fence and depriving Third Energy of the use of the rig under a trade union law.

District judge Adrian Lower acquitted them of the trade union law offence on the grounds they were not asked to descend so the company could continue drilling.

Drilling site supervisor James Whitham told the court he repeatedly asked the three to come down on grounds of their safety and the risk their actions posed for others.

The district judge threw out the criminal damage charge on the grounds of no case to answer.

Ms Moore told the court she had decided to go up the rig shortly after 3am on Saturday, October 21, because she thought the company wouldn’t be working then and she wanted to publicise the anti-fracking cause.

The other defendants did not give evidence.