A GROUP of protestors taken to court after preventing a deportation flight from taking off at Stansted have had their convictions overturned on appeal.

The so-called Stansted 15 cut through the airport’s perimeter fence and locked themselves together around a Boeing 767 jet chartered by the Home Office to transport people from UK detention centres for repatriation to Africa.

They were later convicted at Chelmsford Crown Court of an offence arising out of the March 2017 incident.

Three were given suspended jail sentences and the other 12 were handed community orders.

The group were granted permission to appeal against their convictions in August 2019 and a three-day hearing took place before the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, sitting with Mr Justice Jay and Mrs Justice Whipple, in November.

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In a judgement on Friday afternoon the judgement came back to overturn 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.”


The protesters, who all pleaded not guilty, were convicted in December 2018 of the intentional disruption of services at an aerodrome under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 (Amsa).

They were sentenced in February 2019.

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In documents before the court, the Stansted 15’s barristers argued this law is intended to deal with violence of the “utmost seriousness”, such as terrorism, not demonstrators.

They argued that Amsa is not concerned with risks of “a health and safety-type nature” posed by those who have trespassed at an airport without causing or intending to pose “a direct risk of endangerment” to the operation of the airport, or people there.

Lawyers for the group also argued the Attorney General – who is required to sign off on the use of this legislation – should not have granted consent for the law to be used in this case, that the Crown Court judge, Judge Christopher Morgan, made errors in summing up the case, and there were errors in directions given to the jury.


The Stansted 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; and Ruth Potts, 46.