Demonstrators gathered outside the Home Office on Tuesday night to protest the conviction of 15 people who locked themselves to a deportation plane in Stansted airport.
On March 28 2017 the group, known as the Stansted 15, cut a 3ft by 3ft hole in the airport’s perimeter fence and locked themselves to the chartered plane by binding their arms together inside pipes containing expanding foam.
After a nine-week trial, the defendants were found guilty by a Chelmsford Crown Court jury of endangering the safety of the airport, an offence that can carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The 15, who blocked the flight from taking off, were all part of End Deportations, a group dedicated to publicising and campaigning against deportations.
They, along with the group Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, held a demonstration outside the Home Office on Tuesday December 11 to protest the verdict.
JOINING FORCES: Campaign groups combined to protest the conviction.
The flight was due to deport 60 undocumented immigrants to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
The defendants believed the deportees were at risk of death, persecution and torture should they be removed from Britain.
Since then, Amnesty International UK claim ten of the individuals due to be deported are now pursuing asylum claims in the UK and at least one has been granted permission to remain in the country.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We only return those with no legal right to remain in the UK, including foreign national offenders and failed asylum seekers.
“We expect people to leave the country voluntarily but, where they do not, the Home Office will seek to enforce their departure.”
The defendants due to be sentenced in February are: Helen Brewer, 28; 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 Ruth Potts, 44.
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