Heathrow anti-runway activists who briefly blocked roads on 19th November get conditional discharges

Twelve campaigners will face no penalty, and were given conditional discharges, after staging a protest near Heathrow against airport expansion. A small group of people ran on to the M4 and A4 roads and lay down in front of oncoming traffic, causing a temporary disruption – under half an hour – on 19th November.  Fifteen of them, aged between 21 and 67, were charged with wilful obstruction of the highway. At a hearing at Ealing magistrates court 12 of them pleaded guilty and were given a conditional discharge. They were told they would each have to pay a victim surcharge and prosecution costs of £105. The court heard their motivations were fears about air pollution potentially caused by a third runway at Heathrow, the urgency of climate change and social inequality. The district judge Stephen Day pointed out they were all of good character and had no previous convictions. He said “…I have read your references which talk about you in glowing terms”  The court heard that police knew a protest had been organised.  One of the activists said: “This is not the end. We will continue to fight until the government takes meaningful action to tackle climate change, and that includes not building a third runway.” Two protesters pleaded not guilty, and will be tried on 6th and 7th February.

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Heathrow runway activists face no penalty over motorway protest

Campaigners who pleaded guilty to wilful obstruction of M4 and A4 roads given conditional discharges

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Twelve campaigners will face no penalty after staging a protest near Heathrow against airport expansion.

A small group of people ran on to the M4 and A4 roads and lay down in front of oncoming traffic, causing a temporary disruption on 19 November. Fifteen of them, aged between 21 and 67, were charged with wilful obstruction of the highway.

At a hearing at Ealing magistrates court on Thursday, 12 of them pleaded guilty and were given a conditional discharge. They were told they would each have to pay a victim surcharge and prosecution costs of £105.

The court heard their motivations were fears about air pollution potentially caused by a third runway at Heathrow, the urgency of climate change and social inequality.

The district judge Stephen Day pointed out they were all of good character and had no previous convictions.

The prosecutor, Richard Doolan, said the protesters were joined together by plastic tubing and some of the defendants had to be cut free. They were removed from the road in less than half an hour, he said.  The court heard that police knew a protest had been organised.

Those sentenced after pleading guilty were Madeleine Ellis-Petersen, 24, of Ealing; Joanne Louise Bodimeade, 28, of Lambeth; Alexis Delage, 25, of Lewisham; Tom Venner-Woodcock, 29, of Southwark; and Tess Lotter, 30, of Camden, all in London. Also sentenced were Antoine Thalmann, 25, and Henry Owen, 23, both of Oxford; Simon Bramwell, 44, of Stroud, Gloucestershire; Ian Bray, 49, of Kirklees, West Yorkshire; Graham Lewis, 53, of Wells, Somerset; Thomas Harford, 26, of Bristol; and Sibi Moore, 21, of Sidmouth, Devon.

Lewis wore a white shirt in court which said: “Plane crazy runway hell.” He also intervened at one point in proceedings to say he was a “trainee Buddha”.

Speaking after the sentencing, Ellis-Petersen said: “It’s a great result within the realms of what we were expecting.”

She added: “This is not the end. We will continue to fight until the government takes meaningful action to tackle climate change, and that includes not building a third runway.”

Asked if she would stage a similar protest again, she said: “If that’s what it takes.”

The court heard the defendants were involved in voluntary work with charities and in the community.

Earlier, Isabelle Anderson, 30, of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, and Sophia Lysaczanko, 28, of Haringey in London, pleaded not guilty to wilful obstruction. They will both go on trial at Uxbridge magistrates court, Anderson on 6 February and Lysaczanko the following day.

Margaret Charnley, 67, of Bristol, was not at the hearing because she was excused from attending, but a lawyer indicated a plea of not guilty.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/dec/22/heathrow-runway-activists-face-no-penalty-over-motorway-protest

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Laughing at the law: Slap on the wrist for yoga teacher who HALTED traffic on the M4

  • Campaigners against airport expansion laid down on the M4 last month
  • A number of people admitted charges in west London this morning
  • The 12 who admitted the offence were all given conditional discharges 
  • Supporters held a protest outside the court as those charged arrived 

Twelve campaigners who blocked roads near Heathrow airport in a protest against the planned third runway hailed a ‘great result’ after escaping with conditional discharges today.

They all admitted one charge of wilfully obstructing a highway on November 19th this year when they appeared at Ealing Magistrates Court in west London.

Simon Bramwell, 44, Ian Bray, 49, Graham Lewis, 53, Thomas Harford, 26, Sibi Moore, 21, Madeleine Ellis-Petersen, 24, Antoine Thalmann, 25, Henry Owen, 24, Joanne Louise Bodimeade, 28, Alexis Delage, 25, Tom Venner-Woodcock, 29, and 30-year-old Tess Lotter all received a 12 month conditional discharge.

Joanne Bodimeade hugs a supporter before she received a condition discharge for protesting

Joanne Bodimeade hugs a supporter before she received a condition discharge for protesting

Some of the group had scrawled messages on their shirts as they prepared to face magistrates

Some of the group had scrawled messages on their shirts as they prepared to face magistrates

Demonstrators cheer ahead of the hearing this morning. They all got condition discharges

Demonstrators cheer ahead of the hearing this morning. They all got condition discharges

Speaking after the hearing, surrounded by supporters who had been outside court since this morning holding banners, Madeleine Ellis-Petersen welcomed the sentence.

Ms Ellis-Petersen said: ‘It was a great result within the realms of what were were expecting.

‘However this is not the end we will continue to fight until the government takes meaningful action to tackle climate change and that includes not building a third runway.’

Richard Doolan, prosecuting, had told the court the protesters were split into two groups, one going to the M4 spur road, and the other going onto the A4 Bath Road, near the airport.

He said: ‘The first five defendants entered the A4 Bath Road from the Holiday Inn hotel and lay down in the road blocking it. They were joined together with plastic tubes.

‘Some of the defendants had to be cut away by the authorities, before they were arrested for wilfully obstructing a highway.

‘The other group of nine entered the M4 and also lay down in the road blocking it. They had again locked armed with plastic tubes.

‘All the defendants were removed from the road in less than half an hour by the police. The protest took place between 11am and 12pm.’ Campaigners held banners aloft today as they arrived to face charges over blocking the M4

Campaigners held banners aloft today as they arrived to face charges over blocking the M4

Those charged and their supporters held a demonstration outside the west London court

Those charged and their supporters held a demonstration outside the west London court

A group of campaigners joined hands ahead of the hearing in Ealing this morning

A group of campaigners joined hands ahead of the hearing in Ealing this morning

Mike Schwarz, speaking for the defence, said the defendants were angry at MPs decisions regarding the runway, concerned about the increase in air pollution as a result of more planes over London and the social inequality it may cause.

Mr Schwarz added: ‘They say they acted for moral or even spiritual reasons to stand of for this injustice.’

In mitigation the court heard all the defendants were active campaigners on a range of issues and did a large amount of work in the community.

During the mitigation Lewis, who is unemployed, told the court he was a ‘trainee Buddha’ while doing voluntary work for families in his area.

Judge Stephen Day said: ‘You have all pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and for that you will receive credit.

‘All of you are of good character with no previous convictions and I have read your references which talk about you in glowing terms.

‘For this offence I shall order a conditional discharge.’

The protesters laid on roads near the airport, joining themselves together with plastic tubes

They were removed from the road in less than half an hour by the police, the court heard

Heathrow boss: ‘Third runway will make the airport better’
All 12 defendants were ordered to pay £20 victim surcharge and £85 prosecution costs.

Asked if they would carry out a similar protest again, she said: ‘If that is what it takes.’

The group of 12 were welcomed outside court by their supporters, and they were all wearing Tshirts which said ‘#NONEWRUNWAYS: GUILTY OF PROTECTING OUT PLANET’.

At the end of the hearing Harford, 26, of Bristol, pleaded not guilty to possession of a class A drug, namely heroin on the day of the protest, and elected for a Crown Court trial.

He was granted unconditional bail, to appear at Isleworth Crown Court on January 19.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4058126/Heathrow-protestors-arrive-court-M4-demonstration.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

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See earlier:

15 people arrested in protest against proposed 3rd runway, blocking two roads close to Heathrow

In addition to a rally held on Richmond Green, organised by Zac Goldsmith, against the planned 3rd Heathrow runway there were two other protests near Heathrow. Zac’s rally had a host of speakers, including the leaders of the four councils bringing a legal challenge to the government, and the ex-President of the Maldives – with the aim of ensuring Zac is returned to Parliament in the by-election on 1st December. A short while later, there was an action by climate protesters, organised by RisingUp! close to Heathrow itself. They got onto the M4 spur road to the airport at a traffic lights when the traffic had stopped. Within seconds five had locked themselves together with arm locks, blocking the road. Another Heathrow road, the East Ramp, was also blocked, for a short time, with some road trips slightly delayed, but no flights were affected. Fifteen arrests were made for obstructing the highway or public order offences. Many others protested, though without blocking a road. A spokesman for Rising Up! said: “The government’s decisions to expand Heathrow, despite mass opposition from local residents and the fact that doing so is incompatible with the UK’s own laws on climate change, leaves us with no morally acceptable option but to resist.”   One of the protesters taking part in the demonstration, Genny Scherer, 70, said: “It’s one or the other: new runways or a safe climate. I want my nephews and nieces to grow up in a safe climate, just like I was able to.”   

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/11/15-people-arrested-in-protest-against-proposed-3rd-runway-blocking-two-roads-close-to-heathrow/

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