Kirsty Brimelow QC represented Melanie Strickland and Alistair Tamlit, two of the “Stansted 15” at their sentencing hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court

On the 10th of December 2018 all defendants had been found guilty of one count of Endangering Safety at an Aerodrome contrary to section 1.1(2)(b) of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990. Strickland, (Tamlit and Edward Thacker) had a previous conviction of aggravated trespass for entering Heathrow Airport Airside and setting up a tripod in protest at the third runway.

On 28th of March 2017 the defendants cut an hole in the airside perimeter fence of London Stansted airport and entered. They went to a Boeing 767 which was parked to the north of the runway and was being prepared to carry out enforced deportation by the Home Office of 57 people to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. Some lay on the ground and “locked on” around the front nose wheel of the plane whilst others erected a tripod near the left wing. They displayed a banner which read “Mass deportations kill” and “Noone is illegal”. The runway was closed for around one hour and twenty minutes and there was considerable disruption to Ryan Air flights.

The protest was entirely peaceful and there was no intention to endanger safety. As a result of their actions 11 people from that flight remain in the U.K with two recognised as victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, another two considered that they may be victims of human trafficking.  two have been granted leave to remain and one has had their status as a third country family member of an EEA recognised.

At Chelmsford Crown Court HHJ Morgan sentenced Tamlit and Thacker to 9 months’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months with 250 hours unpaid work and Strickland to 9 months’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months with unpaid work of 100 hours. The other defendants were sentenced to community orders for 12 months with unpaid work of 100 hours or rehabilitation order.

Kirsty Brimelow QC led Owen Greenhall of Garden Court Chambers and was instructed by Raj Chada of Hodge Jones and Allen.

Press coverage: The Guardian, BBC