The activists who blocked a deportation flight on Stansted Airport in 2017 had their convictions quashed today in the court of appeal.
The appeal judgement states that ‘The appellants should not have been prosecuted for the extremely serious offence under section 1(2)(b) of the 1990 Act because their conduct did not satisfy the various elements of the offence. There was, in truth, no case to answer’.
In March 2017, 15 activists performed a direct action on Stansted Airport, blocking a Titan Airways aircraft hired by the UK government for the purpose of deporting people.
During the original trial in 2018, 15 activists from End Deportations group admitted that they trespassed at the Stansted airport and performed a lock-on around a plane chartered by the Home Office to deport 60 people to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
Initially, the activists were charged with aggravated trespass, which later was changed to “endangering safety at aerodromes”: a serious terror charge. The activists denied this charge and said they took the non-violent action in order to prevent a breach of human rights. However, the judge in the trial instructed the jury not to consider the argument of necessity defence- where defendants admit breaking the law but say they did so to prevent a greater harm- and asked the jury to instead focus on the direct action putting the safety of the airport and passengers at risk and causing serious disruption to international air travel.
The 15 activists were subsequently convicted, but luckily, they escaped prison sentences. Instead, twelve defendants have been handed 100 hours of community service each today (with victim surcharge of £85), while the other three, who had a prior history of similar kind of activism, got nine-month prison sentences, suspended for 18 months (with surcharges of £115) and community service. Total surcharges for the group was £1,365. This verdict is now quashed.
Photo via Reclaim the Power