Solidarity Statement Following the Conviction of the Stansted 15

On Monday 10 December 2018 a group of peaceful anti-deportation activists, the Stansted 15, were convicted of offences under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990, a piece of legislation introduced in the wake of the Lockerbie bombing aimed at combating international terrorism. The Stansted 15 prevented the departure of a chartered flight deporting 60 people from the UK to Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone, many of whom were at risk of great harm if removed.

The charge - endangering safety at an aerodrome - carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The defendants were initially charged with the lesser offence of aggravated trespass: four months after the protest action, the prosecution amended the charge to the more serious offence of endangering the safety of an aerodrome. The decision to increase the seriousness of the charge, without any change in evidence, appears to be intended to dissuade activists from taking direct action.

Of those who would have been deported on the flight, 11 remain in the UK to have their cases heard, while some have been granted leave to remain. Among those scheduled to be on the flight were recognised survivors of trafficking and slavery who had sought protection in the United Kingdom.

It is a great injustice that it is those who have acted to save lives who have been convicted, rather than those who acted to put people at risk of death and persecution. The conviction of the Stansted 15 is a damning indictment of the Home Office and the UK Government's intolerance of criticism. Instead of reflecting on the hostile environment and what motivated the activists to take direct action, the government has subjected these brave individuals to a long and expensive trial which has treated their actions as equivalent to those of terrorists.

We express our solidarity with the Stansted 15, and all those who take action against the cruel and racist immigration policies of the British government. We support the calls of the Stansted 15 for an immediate end to deportation charter flights, and for a full independent public inquiry into the government’s ‘hostile environment’.

Solidarity Statement for the Stansted 15

The Executive Committee of the Haldane Society along with its president, Michael Mansfield QC make the following statement concerning the Stansted 15:

On 28 March 2017, 15 activists, known as the Stansted 15, physically prevented the departure of a chartered aircraft intended to deport individuals from the UK to Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. It is the activists’ case that some of the people on the flight were at risk of serious harm if forcibly removed to their home country.

The coming days will see the conclusion of the trial of the Stansted 15 at Chelmsford Crown Court. Originally charged with aggravated trespass, their charges were amended to endangering safety at an aerodrome under section 1 of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990. This law was intended to address terrorist acts and carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life. The amendment of the charge risks being a politically chilling decision which dissuades activists from taking direct action; it also associates non-violent direct action with terrorist acts.

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers recognises that there is a long and proud history of direct action in the UK which has preceded significant changes in the law and government policies. It is an apt time, on the 100 year anniversary of women winning the right to vote, to remember that the suffragette movement employed direct action.

In April 2018, Amber Rudd, then Home Security admitted that the Home Office used deportation targets.[1] Corporate Watch updated its report on Charter Flights and referred to evidence indicating that immigration officials target certain nationalities for removal in the lead up to a Charter Flight.[2] In June 2018, the Independent Monitoring Boards’ Charter Flight Monitoring Team expressed concern about the use of excessive restraint in Charter Flights.[3] The Independent Monitoring Board also noted that there had been no official response to their report of 2016.[4] In addition, recent government policies have been deemed to unlawfully remove people with a right to be in the UK (for example the Windrush controversy[5] and the High Court decision  finding that the removal of European nationals for rough sleeping was unlawful[6]).

In this context, we express our concern that such serious charges have been laid against the Stansted 15. We express our solidarity with the Stansted 15, and with activists everywhere who put their bodies and freedoms on the line to save others.


[1] 27 April 2018, The Guardian, Amber Rudd was sent targets for migrant removal. Leak reveals, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/27/amber-rudd-was-told-about-migrant-removal-targets-leak-reveals

[2] 2 July 2018,Corporate Watch, Deportation Charter Flights: Updated Report 2018, https://corporatewatch.org/deportation-charter-flights-updated-report-2018/ 

[3] 12 June 2018, Independent Monitoring Boards, Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Boards’ Charter Flight Monitoring Team for reporting year 2017https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/imb-prod-storage-1ocod6bqky0vo/uploads/2018/06/IMB-Charter-Flights-2017-annual-report.pdf

[4] Ibid para 2.1

[5] 18 July 2018, The Guardian, Revealed: depth of Home Office Failures on Windrush, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/18/revealed-depth-of-home-office-failures-on-windrush ; BBC News, Home Office ‘was told about Windrush Problems in 2016’, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43900697

[6] 14 December 2017, BBC News, Deporting EU Rough sleepers from UK unlawful, High Court rules, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42354864; R (On the Application of Gureckisv Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] EWHC 3298 (Admin)

 

AGM and Lecture on Neoliberalism and Human Rights

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The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers invites you to join us at the next lecture in our human rights series on 6 December 2018 at 6.30pm. Our speaker, Patrick O’Connor QC of Doughty Street Chambers will be speaking on Neoliberalism and human rights.

The lecture will be followed by our Annual General Meeting. The lecture is open to all, although the AGM is open only to members.

Motions for discussion at the AGM, and candidatures for election, can be submitted up to 72 hours in advance of the AGM, or at the AGM itself.

The lecture will take place at:

Room S101
University of Law
14 Store Street
London
WC1E 7DE

Latecomers are welcome to enter quietly.

 

Free Public Lecture (MANCHESTER): Fracking and Protest

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The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers is proud to host this meeting with speakers Richard Brigden and Anna Morris (barristers) and Ewa Barker (anti-fracking activist). The meeting will discuss the defence of protest, injunctions, and campaigning in light of the quashing of the convictions for the anti-fracking protesters - the Preston Road Three - and the resumption of fracking by Cuadrilla.

The meeting will take place from 6pm to 8pm at Garden Court North Chambers, 3rd Floor, Blackfriars House Parsonage, Machester, M3 2JA.

Latecomers are welcome to enter quietly.

Free Public Lecture: Mental Health, Austerity, and Capitalism

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The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers invites you to our free public lecture, Mental Health, Austerity, and Capitalism. The lecture will take place on Thursday 29 November 2018 at 6.30pm to 8.30pm, at Room S101, University of Law, 14 Store Street, London, WC1E 7DE.

Speakers:

  • Rheian Davies: mental health lawyer

  • Daniel Carelli: mental health service user

  • Sophie Talbot: Disability Labour national executive member.

Latecomers are welcome to enter quietly.

Haldane Winter Party 13 December 2018

Join us on 13 December 2018

The Haldane Winter Party 2018 will be on 13 December 2018, at Garden Court Chambers.  Advance tickets are £12 (full price) or £8 (student/unwaged/low waged).  Tickets on the door will be £15/£10; we will accept cash or PayPal.

Entertainment, drink and vegetarian food will be provided throughout the night, within your ticket price.

Get your tickets now

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Haldane Winter Party: Save the Date - 13 December 2018

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Members, comrades, and friends from across the movement are once again invited to the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers' Winter Party.

Save the date of 13 December 2018 from 6.30pm till late.  The party will take place at Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincolns Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3LS (nearest tube Holborn).

Food, drink, and entertainment will be included in the ticket price, which is usually between £10-£20.  Discounted student and low-waged tickets will be available.  Cheaper early bird tickets will go on sale soon at www.haldane.org, but tickets will be on sale on the door as well.

Please share far and wide.

Socialist Lawyer Podcast, Episode 1: Deported for Sleeping Rough

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers is proud to present the debut episode of our new Socialist Lawyer Podcast.

Episode 1: Deported for Sleeping Rough considers the Home Office’s unlawful policy of arresting rough sleeping EEA nationals, stealing their identity papers, and then either detaining and deporting them, or releasing them back onto the streets without papers so that they cannot obtain housing or employment.

The policy itself was declared unlawful in the case of R (on the application of Gureckis, Cielecki, and Perlinski) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, a case brought by Haldane Society members, and led by the Public Interest Law Unit. Its repercussions are still being felt, with homeless charities - St Mungo’s, Thamesreach, and Change Grow Live - who helped the Home Office implement their unlawful policies, now under investigation for data protection breaches. In addition, dozens of cases are being brought against the Home Office in order to pursue compensation for those who were detained and deported.

The podcast is available from Soundcloud (below), and will shortly be available on iTunes.

Egypt and Human Rights: The Case of Haitham Mohamedain

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The Haldane Society invites you to our first lecture of our annual series, on Egypt and Human Rights: The case of Haitham Mohamedain. 
Speakers:

  • Dr Taher Mukhtar, former political prisoner and member of the Egyptian Doctors' Union

  • Anne Alexander, UCU and campaigner against repression in Egypt.

The event will take place today at 6.30pm to 8.30pm at the University of Law, 14 Store Street, London, WC1E 7DE. 
All are welcome and there is no need to book.

Latecomers are welcome to enter quietly.

Haldane Fringe at Labour Party Conference

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On 24 September 2018 at 6pm the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers will host speakers Richard Burgon MP, Shami Chakrabarti, Mark George QC, Chris Peace, and Neil Findlay MSP for a discussion on Orgreave, the miners’ strike and political policing.

Join us at the Hilton Liverpool (Grace Suite), 3 Thomas Steers Way, Liverpool, L1 8LW. No need to book in advance.