Le Clemenceau still faces legal challenge in UK
18 October 2008
A CAMPAIGN to stop a controversial French aircraft carrier being scrapped in Hartlepool has taken a dramatic twist.
The 800ft Le Clemenceau was expected in town within weeks after environmentalists lost a High Court challenge to block its arrival on safety grounds.
But a judge has now reversed that decision and ordered a full review be heard in London's Court of Appeal.
Jean Kennedy, of Friends of Hartlepool, launched a legal challenge saying the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had acted 'unlawfully' by granting Able UK an exemption against asbestos regulations to allow the ship to be dismantled here.
The massive vessel has previously been refused entry into a number of foreign countries for safety reasons.
But Able UK secured a contract to dismantle it at its TERRC (Teesside Environmental Reclamation and Recycling Centre) site at Graythorp.
Ms Kennedy's application, backed by the Public Interest Lawyers group (PIL), was dismissed at the Royal Court of Justice last month, paving the way for the ship to be brought across from the French port of Brest where it is currently berthed.
But following further legal moves by PIL the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Laws has reversed the ruling.
A spokesman for the law firm said: "The Court of Appeal reversed the decision taken by the lower Administrative Court, granted permission for our client to bring the judicial review challenge in full and ordered that due to the public importance of this case that the hearing take place in the Court of Appeal".
Jean Kennedy said: "It is brilliant news. "This gives us the best chance we could ever have to get the whole issue fully aired."
Able UK chairman Peter Stephenson said: "We are targeting the end of November to bring the ship over. We are hopeful of getting an early appeal court date so that this matter can be heard in time and will not affect that contract. "The legal challenge is a direct matter between those bringing it and the HSE and it would not be right for us to comment on that."
A spokesman for the HSE said: "At this stage it is not appropriate for the HSE to comment."