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Stansted Airport activists convicted of security offence

PUBLISHED: 15:50 10 December 2018 | UPDATED: 16:36 10 December 2018

Aerial view of Stansted airport  Picture: STANSTED

Aerial view of Stansted airport Picture: STANSTED

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Activists who brought Stansted Airport flights to a standstill have been convicted of an aviation security offence.

The protesters caused takeoffs and landings to be stopped after chaining themselves together in front of a plane on March 28.

On Monday, following a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court, nine women and six men were found guilty of intentional disruption of services and endangerment at an aerodrome under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act.

Dubbed the ‘Stansted 15’, they used bolt cutters to breach a fence and access a restricted airside area before locking arms in tubing to obstruct the wheel of a Boeing 767, in an attempt to prevent a ‘deportation flight’ from removing failed asylum seekers from the country.

Superintendent Nick Morris called their actions dangerous and disruptive adding that additional joint security measures had since been implemented to further safeguard the airport perimeter.

Judith Reed, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “These people placed themselves, the flight crew, airport personnel and police at serious risk of injury or even death due to their actions on the airfield.”

The 15 convicted were Emma Hughes, 38, of Vicarage Road, Leytonstone; Melanie Evans, 35, of Vicarage Road, Leytonstone; Melanie Stickland, 35, of Borwick Avenue, Walthamstow; Lyndsay Burtonshaw, 28, of no fixed address, London; May Mackeith, 33, of Clementina Road, Leytonstone; Laura Clayson, 28, Lords Close, Greenwich; Helen Brewer, 28, of Markfield Road, Hackney; Ruth Potts, 44, of Ashton Gate Terrace, Bristol; Jyotsna Ram, 33, of Stanhope Gardens, Haringey; Nicholas Sigsworth, 29, of Clementia Road, Leytonstone; Alistair Tamlit, 30, of no fixed address, London; Benjamin Smoke, 27, of Rowley Gardens, Haringey; Edward Thacker, 29, of Markfield Road, Hackney; Nathan Clack, 30, of Lords Close, Lambeth.

They are due to be sentenced at the same court on February 4.

In a statement, the Stansted 15 said: “We are guilty of nothing more than intervening to prevent harm. The real crime is the Government’s cowardly, inhumane and barely legal deportation flights and the unprecedented use of terror law to crack down on peaceful protest.

Raj Chada, who represented all 15 defendants, said: “We are deeply disappointed by today’s verdicts.”

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