Stansted 15 convictions quashed: “No case to answer”

January 30, 2021

The Court of Appeal held on Friday 29 January 2021 that a group of activists who broke into Stansted Airport in an act of protest should “never have been prosecuted” for an “extremely serious” terror-related offence under s.1(2)(b) of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 (“AMSA”).

It overturned the Stansted 15’s convictions.

Lord Burnett said the protestors should not have been prosecuted for the extremely serious offence … because their conduct did not satisfy the various elements of the offence. “There was, in truth, no case to answer.

See : https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/02/07/the-stansted-15-story-ends-well-but-not-good-enough/

This case has been controversial, drawing attention both nationally and internationally. Following the initial convictions, a joint letter was sent to the Government by UN experts, including the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur in the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms when countering terrorism. The UN experts urged the UK government not to use security and terrorism-related legislation to prosecute peaceful protesters.

The failure of the ground relating to necessity, duress and s.3 CLA are unlikely to surprise those with experience of defending protestors in direct action cases. Nevertheless, it is notable that the actions of the appellants did prevent the deportation of five persons on the flight who have consequently been able to establish their legal right to remain in the UK, including three on human rights grounds. One of those has been granted asylum as a victim of human trafficking. In total, of the 60 persons due to be on the deportation flight, eleven reportedly remain in the country.

Amongst the human rights group who have celebrated the ruling are Amnesty UK, who welcomed “a good day for justice” and Liberty, who hailed “a major victory for protest rights” and deprecated the now-quashed convictions, calling them “part of a sustained attack on the right to protest.”

https://www.gazette-news.co.uk/news/19049773.stansted-15-protestors-convictions-overturned-appeal/

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