‘Stansted 15’ protestors who stopped Home Office deportation flight have convictions overturned

Good news – yes, I don’t agree with their methods but to charge them with a “terrorism-related conviction” get the f*ck out, not even near.

The government had plenty of evidence to charge them with lesser crimes but instead try to show their voters “look at how tough we are“, only then to use this result to re-appeal to their base.

Another own goal from this government, article from Sky News below…

The 15 protestors cut through the airport’s perimeter fence in March 2017 and locked themselves together around a Boeing 767 jet.

Protesters taken to court after stopping a deportation flight taking off from Stansted Airport have had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal.

The protestors – known as the “Stansted 15” – cut through the Essex airport’s perimeter fence in March 2017 and locked themselves together around a Boeing 767 jet.

The flight was authorised by the Home Office to transport people from UK detention centres for repatriation to countries in Africa.

File photo dated 24/11/20 of six members of the so-called Stansted 15 (left to right) May MacKeith, Ben Smoke, Helen Brewer, Emma Hughes, Mel Evans, and Ruth Potts outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. The protesters taken to court after preventing a deportation flight from taking off from Stansted Airport are to learn the outcome of their Court of Appeal challenge against their convictions.

The activists were convicted at Chelmsford Crown Court in December 2018 of intentional disruption of services at an aerodrome under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 (AMSA), and the following February three people were given suspended jail sentences while the others were handed community orders.

But in a judgment published today, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, sitting with Mr Justice Jay and Mrs Justice Whipple, overturned their convictions.

Supporters of the 'Stansted 15' outside Chelmsford Crown Court in Essex, ahead of the sentencing of the group of protesters who locked themselves to a deportation flight, which held 60 people whose immigration status had been ruled illegal, at Stansted Airport in March 2017.
Supporters of the ‘Stansted 15’ outside Chelmsford Crown Court in December 2018

They ruled that the protesters should not have been prosecuted for the “extremely serious offence” they were charged with under AMSA “because their conduct did not satisfy the various elements of the offence”.

“There was, in truth, no case to answer,” the judgment said.

“We recognise that the various summary-only offences with which the appellants were originally charged, if proved, might well not reflect the gravity of their actions.

“That, however, does not allow the use of an offence which aims at conduct of a different nature.”

“All the appellants’ convictions must be quashed,” the judges added.

In a tweet after the judgment was published, one of the protesters, Ben Smoke, said: “WON OUR APPEAL!! I’m so happy. I can’t stop crying. We f****** did it!!!”

Lyndsay Burtonshaw, said: “We got the judgement from our appeal for our terrorism-related conviction for the #Stansted15 action. WE WON!”

In August last year, the group was granted permission to appeal against their convictions and, at a three-day hearing in November, lawyers for the activists told the court that the legislation used to convict the 15 is rarely used and not intended for this type of case.

Some of the 'Stansted 15' outside Chelmsford Crown Court in Essex, ahead of the sentencing of the group of protesters who locked themselves to a deportation flight, which held 60 people whose immigration status had been ruled illegal, at Stansted Airport in March 2017.
The deportation flight held 60 people whose immigration status had been ruled illegal

Court papers revealed that the Stansted 15’s barristers argued the AMSA law is intended to deal with violence of the “utmost seriousness”, such as terrorism – not demonstrators.

In the judgment, Lord Burnett said it could not be established on the evidence in the case that the group’s actions created disruption which was “likely to endanger” the safe operation of the airport or the safety of people there.

He said: “Taking the Crown’s case at its highest, and considering all relevant potential consequences, it could not be established to the criminal standard that the actions of the appellants created disruption to the services of Stansted airport which was likely to endanger its safe operation or the safety of persons there.”

The 15 include: Helen Brewer, 31; Lyndsay Burtonshaw, 30; Nathan Clack, 32; Laura Clayson, 30; Melanie Evans, 37; Joseph McGahan, 37; Benjamin Smoke, 21; Jyotsna Ram, 35; Nicholas Sigsworth, 31; Melanie Strickland, 37; Alistair Tamlit, 32; Edward Thacker, 31; Emma Hughes, 40; May McKeith, 35; and Ruth Potts, 46.