The ‘Stansted 15’, a group of peaceful protesters who include former LUSU President Laura Clayson, have been found guilty by a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court under the little-used Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 of disrupting the services of an aerodrome, ‘in such a way as to endanger or be likely to endanger the safe operation of the aerodrome or the safety of persons at the aerodrome.’ Sentencing has been set for the week commencing 4 February and the maximum sentence is imprisonment for life.

As reported in subtext 181, and expanded on by Chris Witter (see letters, below), their ‘crime’ was to disrupt the deportation of undocumented immigrants, many of whom may face persecution or worse in their countries of origin, via charter flights. Thanks to their intervention, 11 people who would have been deported are still in the UK, challenging their withdrawal. The legislation used to prosecute the Stansted 15 was drafted to protect civil aviation in the UK from terrorists, but – unless the group wins their appeal – could now be used more widely to suppress non-violent protest.

This week’s Lancaster Guardian carries an interview with Laura Clayson, who claims that the 15 ‘are guilty of nothing more than intervening to prevent harm’:


A demonstration, to ‘Stand with the #Stansted15 for International Migrants Day’, is planned for Tuesday 18 December in Lancaster. Details at:


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