Heathrow protesters found guilty of graffiti subvertising misleading pro-3rd runway billboards

Two protesters in March 2015 subvertised two Heathrow advertising hoardings, and removed one Heathrow poster from a bus stop. They changed one massive hoarding, on a road close to Heathrow, that said “Those living around us are behind us” to say “Those living around us are CHOKING.”  Another billboard with the slogan “Expand Heathrow and  you grow the economy by up to £211 billion” was changed to say “Expand Heathrow and you grow the economy by destroying homes.” The two men, Larry Rose and Joe McGahan, were tried at Isleworth Crown Court and found guilty. They were charged with criminal damage. They pleaded not guilty, and defended themselves using the defence of lawful excuse. They had attempted to alter Heathrow’s fraudulent billboards in order to portray a more accurate reality of the harm and misery Heathrow’s expansion would bring to local residents and the environment. They cited evidence of the health impact of air pollution around Heathrow, and the increased carbon emissions that an extra runway would cause. The two were given conditional discharges and fines totalling £2,640 – of which £1,200 was to Heathrow to pay for cleaning up. Both adverts were subsequently found to be misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority, and Heathrow was told to withdraw them. 
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Heathrow third runway poster graffiti protesters given conditional discharge after guilty verdicts

16.6.2016 (Get West London)

 Larry and Joe
Joe and Larry outside the court after the trial

Two men who defaced a Heathrow Airport billboard proclaiming the economic benefits of a third runway were allowed to walk free form court after being found guilty in court.

Joseph McGahan, 29, and Lawrence Rose, 32, were convicted by a jury at Isleworth Crown Court of three counts of destroying or damaging property worth £5,000 or less, and one count of having articles with intent to damage or destroy property. [The 3 charges of criminal damage are under section 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 and the charge of ‘going equipped’ is section 4 of the same act.]

They were handed 12-month conditional discharges, with Rose, from Cookham in Maidenhead, told to pay £1,615 and his co-defendant, of no fixed address, £1,040.

The pair had entered not guilty pleas using the statutory defence of ‘lawful excuse’, represented themselves in the trial that began on Monday (June 13).

According to Nic Ferriday, from West London Friends of the Earth, the men targeted billboards on the perimeter road running around the airport. They changed one poster which read “Those living around us are behind us” to “Those living around us are CHOKING”.

 

Afterwards, McGahan said: “We attempted to alter Heathrow’s fraudulent billboards in order to portray a more accurate reality of the harm and misery Heathrow’s expansion will bring to local residents and the environment.

“A 2012 study published in Atmospheric Environment found that fifty early deaths a year can be attributed to air pollution from Heathrow.

“This would treble by 2030 if a third runway is built. Residents suffering the loudest aircraft noise from Heathrow also have 10% more strokes and heart disease, a 2013 British Medical Journal paper studying 3.6 million people revealed.

“The ‘subvertising’ was necessary to prevent greater climate crimes. Aviation is the fastest-rising source of UK emissions amid a climate crisis.”

‘Real crime was to challenge Heathrow’

Mr Ferriday was not surprised with the guilty verdict but pleased with the conditional discharge. However, he argued the case was politically motivated.

He said: “The real crime here was challenging Heathrow’s misleading claims about the economic benefits of a Heathrow expansion.

“If they had graffitied some advert for a washing machine in Hounslow High Street it would never have come to this.

“I’m concerned that police and the Crown Prosecution Service are spending money protecting Heathrow’s public relations.”

John Stewart, chairman of local campaign group HACAN, said, “For the last few years we have faced a barrage of adverts from Heathrow in its bid to get a third runway.

“At times it has seemed as if it has been the power and money of the advertising the industry against the people. Joe and Larry have stood up for the people.”

http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/west-london-news/heathrow-third-runway-poster-graffiti-11484510

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See also

AirportWatch calls on the Advertising Standards Authority to take action to remove misleading ads speedily

A bizarre court case has seen two environmental campaigners landed with a bill for more than £2,600 after they “corrected” a Heathrow Airport billboard promoting a new runway – even though the Advertising Standards Authority subsequently ruled that Heathrow’s claims were indeed incorrect. Lawrence Rose and Joseph McGahan were found guilty of defacing Heathrow billboards near the airport, and in their view correcting misinformation on the adverts in March 2015. The adverts about local support and about benefits to the UK economy were referred – in March or April 2015 – to the Advertising Standards Authority, which ruled in September 2015 that these adverts were misleading. Larry and Joe were given suspended sentences, after a jury trial, and fines including a cost of £1,200 to Heathrow airport for the cost of tidying up the damage to their incorrect and misleading adverts. They were also fined £1,440 of court costs. For many months in 2014 and 2015, Heathrow placed these misleading advertisements in very public places. Thousands or hundreds of thousands of people will have seen the ads. Though the Advertising Standards Authority eventually ruled against them, the process took many months so by that time Heathrow had had extensive publicity and been able to convey misinformation. AirportWatch believes this is wrong. The process by which incorrect adverts are removed should be improved to ensure unsubstantiated claims by huge companies, like airports, are not left in place for months after being challenged.

Click here to view full story…


From Plane Stupid on Facebook

16.6.2016

Where is the criminal offence for Heathrow? More evidence that the law serves to protect corporate interests over the lives and homes of the people.

“For the last few years we have faced a barrage of adverts from Heathrow in its bid to get a third runway. At times it has seemed as if it has been the power and money of the advertising industry against the people. These two artists have stood up for the people.”

JURY CONVICTS HEATHROW EXPANSION AD GRAFFITI ARTISTS

A jury at Isleworth Crown Court today convicted two activists charged with criminal damage on Heathrow airport billboards backing new runways. The adverts have since been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, which concluded that the claims could not be substantiated and were misleading and ordered that the adverts be removed.

The protesters were ordered by Judge Edmunds QC to pay costs of £1615 and £1040 respectively, and sentenced to a twelve month conditional discharge. This means they will only receive a penalty if they are convicted again in the next year. The 12 jurors took 2 hours to find them guilty of 3 counts of criminal damage and 1 of going equipped to cause criminal damage against the property of Heathrow Airports Ltd.

The defendants admitted doing the graffiti as soon as they were arrested, saying they were acting to prevent greater crimes against local residents and all other life on earth. They plead ‘not guilty’, using the statutory defence of ‘lawful excuse’.

“We attempted to alter Heathrow’s fraudulent billboards in order to portray a more accurate reality of the harm and misery Heathrow’s expansion will bring to local residents and the environment. In one of the misleading billboards we defaced, Heathrow claimed ‘Those around us are behind us’, when in reality, those around us are choking”

A 2012 study published in Atmospheric Environment found that fifty early deaths a year can be attributed to air pollution from Heathrow; this would treble by 2030 if a third runway is built. Residents suffering the loudest aircraft noise from Heathrow also have 10% more strokes and heart disease, a 2013 British Medical Journal paper studying 3.6 million people revealed.

“The ‘subvertising’ was necessary to prevent greater climate crimes. Aviation is the fastest-rising source of UK emissions amid a climate crisis.”

The adverts were later banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, which concluded that the claims could not be substantiated and were misleading and ordered that the adverts be removed.

Tracy Howard, a Sipson resident, said: “The reason my home and my daughter’s school haven’t been demolished for new runways is that people took action like this. The ones who should be in court are the Heathrow bosses doing truly criminal damage to our climate and our villages.”

https://www.facebook.com/PlaneStupidUK/posts/1631909127128678

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Below is another Heathrow billboard that was altered by others, unknown in November 2014.

Heathrow roadside hoarding subvertised Nov 2014


Below are some cases of Heathrow advertisements being banned by the ASA:

Advertising Standards Authority rules against misleading “Back Heathrow” ad claiming 60% support for runway

April 20, 2016

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an advert from “Back Heathrow” claiming that most local people back Heathrow expansion. “Back Heathrow” is a lobby group, funded through Heathrow with the aim of pushing for the 3rd runway. Back Heathrow ran a regional press ad headlined “Rallying for the runway” with the line “Don’t believe the hype. Most people living in communities near Heathrow Airport support its expansion.”  They claimed from polls there was 60% support.  The ASA says the claim was misleading, and the 60% figure had only been massaged up from 50% to that level by omitting the 15% who did not express an opinion. The ASA considered most consumers were likely to understand it to mean that a clear majority of those surveyed in the poll (the original sample) were in support of expansion. They ruled that removing the 15% was “not a suitable methodology by which to draw such a conclusion, and was misleading. The ad must not appear again in its current form, and “Back Heathrow” must not repeat these claims ” unless it held robust substantiation for them.”  This is a blow to “Back Heathrow,” the strategy of which has been to try to convince decision-makers that a majority of local people back a 3rd runway.  That claim looks flimsy. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/04/advertising-standards-authority-rules-against-misleading-back-heathrow-ad-claiming-60-support-for-runway

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Earlier:

Advertising Standards Authority finds Heathrow advert about increased trade breaches their code and is ‘misleading’

February 4, 2015

In October 2014 about 13 people send in official complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, on claims being made by Heathrow in its adverts. The ASA looked at 7 different complaints, and considered that 6 passed their standards. However, on the claim by Heathrow in its ads headed:”Expand Heathrow and its’s the economy that takes off” the statement “Direct flights to long-haul destinations build twenty times more trade with them than indirect flights” was found to breach the ASA code. The ASA say the claim was not adequately substantiated and that the ad therefore breached the Code, both by being misleading and by not having proper substantiation. The ASA say the advert “must not appear again in its current form.” They have told Heathrow “to ensure that they held robust substantiation for absolute claims made in their future advertising.”  The ASA ruling also says the claim was presented as objective facts rather than an educated assumption and that Heathrow’s own report “One Hub or None”itself cautioned that direct flights would not automatically lead to more trade and that multiple factors could influence the amount of bilateral trade.  

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/02/advertising-standards-authority-finds-heathrow-advert-about-increased-trade-breaches-their-code-and-is-misleading/
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and

Advertising Standards Agency rules Heathrow ads claiming “Those living around us are behind us” are misleading

September 16, 2015

Heathrow Airport has been told by the ASA that its adverts claiming that “Those living around us are behind us”.  Eight people had challenged whether the adverts were misleading and if they could be substantiated.  The ASA concluded that the claim exaggerated the level of support for expansion, had not been substantiated and was misleading. They noted that the claims “Those living around us are behind us” and “Locals support it” were not qualified.  The ASA considered that most readers would interpret the claims to mean that a clear majority of those living in close proximity to Heathrow Airport supported expansion. The evidence provided, however, showed that only 50% of those surveyed from ten constituencies close to the airport supported expansion. The ASA say the ads must not appear in their current form again. They told Heathrow Airport Ltd to ensure they held sufficient evidence to substantiate their objective marketing claims in future, and to ensure their claims were adequately qualified, without contradiction. John Stewart, chair of HACAN, said: “This judgement is not good news for Heathrow. It undermines a key plank of their campaign that they have strong local support for a third runway.” The ASA ruled against other Heathrow ads in February 2015.   

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/09/advertising-standards-agency-rules-heathrow-ads-claiming-those-living-around-us-are-behind-us-are-misleading/

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There was also:

Heathrow display 2 versions of their “economic benefit” poster – one saying £100 billion, the other “up to £211 billion” … (Over 60 years)

March 30, 2015

Heathrow airport has two different versions of its massive poster near Terminal 5. They have the same text,  with claims of the alleged economic benefits to the UK of a new runway.  One poster says “Expand Heathrow and you grow the economy by £100 billion.” And other nearby says “Expand Heathrow and you grow the economy by up to £211 billion.”  They cannot both be right.  Is this merely a matter of picking wildly different figures out of the air?  Heathrow airport responded that:  “£100bn was our conservative estimate. When the Airports Commission analysed it they estimated up to £211bn across UK.”  What the massive posters fail to say it these purported benefit are not for one year. They are over a 60 year period, 2026 to 2086. ie. not a huge amount per year, (£2 – 3 billion maximum, on a generous estimate) bearing in mind the huge tourism deficit (perhaps £10 – £13 billion per year); or the loss to the Treasury as air travel pays no VAT and no fuel duty, (amounting to perhaps £10 billion per year). But the Airports Commission estimate of £211 billion economic benefit from a new NW Heathrow runway comes with many caveats – by the Commission itself.  They say the “results should be interpreted with caution, given the innovative methodology used…”  So more that are difficult to substantiate.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/03/heathrow-display-2-versions-of-their-economic-benefit-poster-one-saying-100-billion-the-other-up-to-211-billion-over-60-years/