R v Ruth Potts and others (The Stansted 15)



[2018] Crown Court at Chelmsford

The Home Office commissions charter flights to secretly deport hundreds of people from the UK every month, under cover of darkness and far from the ability of members of the public to observe or intervene to prevent the abuse which is endemic to the process.  In 2017 the flights included deportations which were unlawful, and which included the removal of accepted survivors of sex trafficking.

In March 2017 15 activists cut through the fence at an isolated part of Stansted Airport, and locked themselves around a chartered plane belonging to Titan Airways, shortly before it was to be loaded with deportees.

The actions of the defendants caused the flight to be cancelled.  They were arrested and initially charged with criminal damage, aggravated trespass, and breach of the bylaws at Stansted Airport, all relatively low-level offences.

Shortly before their trial was due to begin the charges were changed to disruption of services at an aerodrome by means of a device or substance in such a way as to endanger safety of persons at the aerodrome or the safe operation of the aerodrome.

After a 10-week trial the defendants were convicted.  Their appeals are pending before the Court of Appeal, and Stephen remains instructed.

The case was reported extensively in the media, including The Guardian, BBC News, the Victoria Derbyshire Show, the Independent, the Huffington Post, the Evening Standard, and Sky News.  The defendants were declared by Amnesty International to be human rights defenders.

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