A group of protestors who were arrested for preventing a flight of 60 from departing Standsted airport in 2017 have had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal.
On the 27th of March 2017, the ‘Standsted 15’ broke through Essex airport’s perimeter fence in order to protest the deportation of migrants back to Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. They locked arms with one another around the aircraft and therefore prevented its departure.
The group were convicted at Chelmsford Crown Court in December 2018, with three being handed suspended jail sentences whilst the other twelve given community orders.
In August 2019 the protestors were granted permission to appeal their convictions and after a three-day court hearing in November that year, it was argued that the legislation used against the group was inappropriate as it was originally passed to be used against violence and threats of/and terrorism, not demonstrations.
In a Court of Appeal judgement today, the Lord Chief of Justice, Lord Burnett stated that the group should not have been prosecuted for their actions as their conduct was not “likely to endanger” the operational safety of the airport itself, and that “there was, in truth, no case to answer”
The ‘Standsted 15’ are: 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, Ruth Potts; 46.