The Heathrow 13 were today found guilty at Willesden Magistrates’ Court of aggravated trespass and being in an unauthorised area of Heathrow Airport in summer 2015. Sentencing has been adjourned until Wednesday, 24th February and the defendants bailed until then.
The defendants were taking direct action against the ongoing effect of emissions at Heathrow Airport and occupied the airport’s north runway on 13 July 2015 causing up to 25 flights to be cancelled.
Raj Chada, partner and criminal defence lawyer at Hodge Jones & Allen defended four of the accused. He said: “My clients had learned of scientific evidence that 31 people died within a 20 mile radius of Heathrow every year. Despite breaching European Union regulations, no action has been taken against Heathrow. Further, they produced expert evidence at trial to show that 48% of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK come from Heathrow and that aircraft emissions had a more serious effect on the environment than other sectors.
“Despite these issues showing the current emission level, the Davies Report published in July 2015 recommended a third runway at Heathrow, which would ultimately further increase emissions.
“My clients, along with nine others, felt that they had to act to prevent these emissions and occupied the north runway.
“My clients are disappointed by their conviction. They regard climate change and air pollution from Heathrow as a clear and present danger to human health – locally, nationally and internationally. It will be time for those in authority to act to prevent these emissions from getting worse.”
Raj Chada represented Melanie Strickland, Sam Sender, Sheila Menon and Robert Basto.
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Notes for Editors
1. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell was prevented from giving evidence during the trial.
2. Writer and environmental commentator George Monbiot wrote about the case in The Guardian.