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’.