Protest rights

Victory for protest rights in successful Stansted 15 appeal

Posted on 29 Jan 2021

Liberty welcomes the Court of Appeal’s decision to overturn the convictions of the Stansted 15 protestors.

  • Court of Appeal decision important in the fight to protect protest
  • Liberty argues protest is vital for a healthy democracy
  • Prosecutions are part of attack on protest, Liberty warns

Liberty has welcomed the Court of Appeal’s decision to overturn the convictions of the ‘Stansted 15’ protestors.

The group had been convicted under counter-terror laws for stopping a forced deportation flight taking-off from Stansted airport on 28 March 2017.

The ‘Stansted 15’ took direct action to stop the flight because they believed some of the planned deportations were unlawful. At the time, eleven of the would-be deportees were in the process of challenging the lawfulness of their deportations. All eleven are still in the UK today. Five have since been granted leave to remain, including three on human rights grounds, one of whom was granted asylum as a victim of human trafficking.

Liberty intervened in the appeal to assist the court on the need for people to be able to protest matters of public importance, such as the potentially unlawful deportation of people from the UK.

Liberty also warned that inappropriate charges – like those brought against the ‘Stansted 15’ – are part of a broader attack on the right to protest which is making it harder and harder for people to express dissent.

Lana Adamou, Liberty lawyer, said: “Standing up for what we believe in – standing up to power – is what Liberty was built on. Protest, whatever the cause, is fundamental to a healthy democracy. It is not a crime, which is why this case was so important.

“These charges were an attack on  our right to express dissent and it is good news for all of us they have been overturned.

“The prosecutions of the Stansted 15 are part of a bigger picture. The Government is trying to weaken and water down our right to protest and, by extension, to chip away at the ways we can stand up to power.

“All too often it is the most marginalised in society, and those acting in solidarity with them, who bear the brunt of over-zealous policing and crackdowns on protest, making it even more important for the Government to take steps to facilitate protest and ensure these voices are heard., rather than find ways to suppress them.”

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