Stansted 15: No Jail For Activists Convicted of Terror-Related Offences
Fifteen activists convicted of a terrorism-related offence for chaining themselves around an immigration removal flight at Stansted airport have received suspended sentences or community orders. The judge decided not to imprison them after he accepted they were motivated by “genuine reasons”. Amid an outcry over what human rights defenders branded a heavy-handed prosecution, the group, who have become known as the Stansted 15, were convicted last December of endangering the safety of an aerodrome.
At Chelmsford crown court on Wednesday, Judge Christopher Morgan QC, dismissed submissions in mitigation that the group should receive conditional discharges for the direct action protest, which briefly paralysed the airport, saying they did not reflect the danger that had been presented by their actions. He said such action would “ordinarily result in custodial sentences”, but that they “didn’t have a grievous intent as some may do who commit this type of crime”. The mood in the court had lightened considerably at the start of the hearing when Morgan said that he did not consider the culpability of any of the defendants passed the threshold of an immediate custodial sentence.
The heaviest sentences were reserved for three of the group who had been previously convicted of aggravated trespass at Heathrow airport in 2016. Alistair Tamlit and Edward Thacker were sentenced on Wednesday to nine months in jail suspended for 18 months, along with 250 hours of unpaid work. Melanie Strickland was sentenced to nine months suspended for 18 months, with 100 hours of unpaid work.
Benjamin Smoke, Helen Brewer, Lyndsay Burtonshaw, Nathan Clack, Laura Clayson, Mel Evans, Joseph McGahan, Jyotsna Ram, Nicholas Sigsworth, Emma Hughes and Ruth Potts were each given 12-month community orders with 100 hours of unpaid work, while May McKeith received a 12-month community order with 20 days of rehabilitation.
Read more: Damien Gayle, Guardian, https://is.gd/BQjCJa
Challenge to Lack of Safeguards for People Held in Prison Under Immigration Powers
The High Court has granted clients of Duncan Lewis Solicitors permission to challenge the lack of safeguards in place to identify vulnerable people held in prison under immigration powers. The Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Secretary of State for Justice are defendants in this claim. This litigation could have profound implications for hundreds of people held in the prison estate under immigration powers every year.
Who is making the challenge?
We are currently representing a number of clients who were held for months under immigration powers in prison despite being survivors of torture and sexual violence, and/or having serious mental health problems. Our clients argue that there is insufficient protection for vulnerable people held in the prison estate as opposed to those in immigration detention centres.
What safeguards currently exist for people in prisons?
The Detention Centre Rules 2001 do not apply for people held in prison. Our clients argue that there is no equivalent to Rule 34 and Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules 2001 and that this lacuna is unlawful on the basis that it is unfair/unreasonable, discriminatory, and in breach of the Equality Act 2010.