Stansted 15: Defendants call for terror convictions to be quashed and hostile environment dismantled
The Stansted 15, a group of anti-deportation protesters who blocked a government deportation flight last year, are set to avoid jail according to reports from Chelmsford Crown Court.
Responding to the judge’s indications, the defendants demanded that their convictions are quashed, and that the government dismantle the UK’s ‘vicious immigration system’.
The Stansted 15, sentenced today by a Crown Court judge, learnt their verdict in December after a trial that lasted from 1st October until 10th December. The jury found all fifteen defendants guilty of intentional disruption of services and endangerment at an aerodrome under the 1990 Aviation and Maritime Security Act – a controversial use of terror-related law.
All fifteen look likely to avoid immediate prison sentences, with 3 set to be given suspended sentences and 12 set to be given community service.
In a statement, the Stansted 15 said:
“These terror convictions and the ten-week trial that led to them are an injustice that has profound implications for our lives. The convictions will drastically limit our ability to work, travel and take part in everyday life. Yet, people seeking asylum in this country face worse than this: they are placed in destitution and their lives in limbo, by the Home Office’s vicious system every single day.
“When a country uses draconian terror legislation against people for peaceful protest, snatches others from their homes in dawn raids, incarcerates them without time limit and forces them onto planes in the middle of the night, due to take them to places where their lives might be at risk, something is very seriously wrong. Every single one of us should be very worried about our democracy and our future.”
“We demand that these convictions are quashed, and that the Government dismantles the vicious, barely legal, immigration system that destroys so many people’s lives.”
Raj Chada, Partner from Hodge Jones & Allen, who represented all 15 of the defendants said:
“While we are relieved that none of our clients face a custodial sentence, today is still a sad day for justice. Our clients prevented individuals being illegally removed from the UK and should never have been charged under counter terrorism legislation. We maintain that this was an abuse of power by the Attorney General and the CPS and will continue to fight in the appeal courts to get these wrongful convictions overturned.”
Shami Chakrabarti, Labour’s Shadow Attorney General, responding to the sentencing of the Stansted 15, said:
“It will be a matter of relief to all those who value peaceful dissent, proportionality and common sense that none of the Stansted 15 have been imprisoned. But their terrorism convictions remain a real concern with serious consequences for their lives.
“The next Labour Government will review the statute book to better guarantee the right to peaceful dissent. We must end the hostile environment, not only for vulnerable people but also those who stand up for them.”