Stansted 15 lawyers accuse judge of ‘bias’ and launch appeal against convictions

Stansted 15
Fréa Lockley

On 7 January, lawyers for the Stansted 15 – who took peaceful direct action to stop a deportation flight in March 2017 – launched a legal appeal against their convictions. As The Canary reported in December 2018, a jury in Chelmsford found 15 activists guilty of a terrorism-related offence.

“A travesty of justice”

The 15 activists’ defence was that they responded to a “call for help”. But all now potentially face life imprisonment. Following a nine-week trial, the defendants were found guilty of intentional disruption of services and endangerment at an aerodrome under the 1990 Aviation and Maritime Security Act.

As the Guardian reported, ahead of the verdict the judge told the jury to “disregard all evidence” which the defendants gave:

to support the defence that they acted to stop human rights abuses.

Lawyers for the activists argued that the judge’s summing up was “biased” and that “he should have allowed the defendants to make the defence of necessity”. The appeal also argues that the judge “got the law wrong about what the offence means”. It challenges why no disclosure materials were sent to the attorney general during the trial. Furthermore, it questions if the attorney general gave consent to use terrorism charges.

Lawyer Raj Chada, who represents 13 of the activists, called the convictions “a travesty of justice”. Rights Info reported that he also said:

It is our strongly held belief that charging them with this offence was an abuse of power by the attorney general and the CPS. It is only right and fitting that this wrongful conviction is overturned.

“Justice”

Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s director, called the convictions “a crushing blow for human rights in the UK”. Following news of the appeal, Helen Brewer, one of the 15, said:

We are appealing our convictions because justice has not been done. Justice will only be done when we are acquitted of a crime that is completely disproportionate to an act of peaceful protest and when the Home Office is held to account for the danger it puts people in every single day – people who have sought asylum in this country fleeing harm and persecution in the very places the government deports them to.

And Brewer concluded:

Those are the real crimes – the use of brutal, inhumane and barely legal deportation flights, and the unprecedented use of terror law against peaceful protesters who acted to prevent harm.

Featured image via screengrab

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