The courts service has apologised to the Stansted 15 protestors after they were mistakenly summonsed back to court over the same incident they had been convicted of.
The group had been found guilty of preventing a deportation flight from taking off from Stansted in 2017. They received community orders and suspended jail terms.
But then the group all received letters summonsing them to Colchester Magistrates’ Court on April 15 charged with aggravated trespass.
A spokesperson for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service said: “This case was incorrectly listed and letters sent in error.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused and the hearing on April 15 will be cancelled.”
Raj Chada, Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, who represents all of the Stansted 15, noted the retraction and apology but added: “It doesn’t take away from the misery that our clients suffered over the weekend.
“More importantly, it is a temporary reprieve as the CPS are still continuing the case and want it hanging over our clients like the Sword of Damocles – and all because the prosecution want a plan B in case they lose in the Court of Appeal – this is not in the public interest.”
The activists cut through Stansted 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 all convicted at Chelmsford Crown Court of the intentional disruption of services at an aerodrome, contrary to section 1 (2) (b) of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 – which was brought in after the Lockerbie bombing.
The defendants, aged between 27 and 44, are appealing against their convictions.
They are: Helen Brewer, 29; Lyndsay Burtonshaw, 28; Nathan Clack, 30; Laura Clayson, 28; Melanie Evans, 35; Joseph McGahan, 35; Benjamin Smoke, 27; Jyotsna Ram, 33; Nicholas Sigsworth, 29; Melanie Strickland, 35; Alistair Tamlit, 30; Edward Thacker, 29; Emma Hughes, 38; May McKeith, 33, and 44-year-old Ruth Potts.
Thacker, Strickland and Tamlit were sentenced to nine months in prison suspended for 18 months.
The 12 other defendants were given 12-month community orders.