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17 plead not guilty over Stansted deportation protest

Defendants contest public order charges arising from protest that stopped a Home Office removal flight.

Two journalists and fifteen protestors have pleaded not guilty to public order offences arising from a protest at Stansted Airport in March that stopped a deportation flight.

Chelmsford Magistrates Court heard on Wednesday that the flight had been due to deport around 50 migrants to Nigeria and Ghana, flanked by 100 guards.

Barry Hargreaves, for the prosecution, claimed that the defendants went through a hole in the perimeter fence and trespassed onto the airport runway at 9.30pm on 28 March 2017, before “chaining themselves together causing disruption to the [deportation] flight”.

The protest was likely to have inconvenienced passengers, it was further alleged.

The defendants, nine women and eight men aged 23 to 46, were charged with public order offences and breaching airport byelaws. They pleaded not guilty.

Raj Chada, a solicitor from Hodge Jones & Allen, is representing the majority of the defendants. Mike Schwarz, from Bindmans, is representing another of the accused, who gave his occupation as journalist.

District Judge Holdham granted bail on the condition that the defendants cannot go to Stansted airport, except with a pre-booked flight ticket.

She ordered the defendants to appear at Basildon Magistrates court on 22 September for a six day trial.

About the author

Phil Miller is a freelance journalist. Twitter: @pmillerinfo

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