Heathrow 13 Who are the activists facing jail?


Who are the Heathrow 13? 

The Heathrow 13 are a well-known group of men and women who belong to the Plane Stupid protest group. 

The 13 activists, aged between 23 and 67, stood trial after demonstrating against plans for a third runway at Heathrow. 

The protesters are due to be sentenced on Wedneday February 24 for blocking Heathrow”s northern runway last year. 

What did the Heathrow 13 do? 

The activists cut a hole through a perimeter fence and chained themselves to railings on the north runway in July 2015. 

The protest, which lasted six hours, forced the cancellation of 25 flights and caused delays at Heathrow.

The court heard that protesters sang “we don”t want no runway” and one activist, dressed as a polar bear, attached himself to the top of scaffolding. 

What were the Heathrow 13 found guilty of? 

The group of protesters were found guilty of aggravated trespass and entering a security restricted area of the airport.

The activists were convicted in January 2016 at Willesden Magistrates Court. 

Heathrow executives say the protesters must face the consequences of having jeopardised safety at the airport.

What was the reaction to Heathrow 13 case?

Green MP Caroline Lucas said sending the committed activists to jail would be “deeply unjust” and completely unwarranted. 

“They took a principled and non-violent stand against the colossal environmental cost of expanding an airport that already breaches air pollution laws- yet they’re being treated is if they are somehow a danger to society,” she said. 

“The real danger we face are the toxic fumes emitted by airports and the looming threat of catastrophic climate change.”

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell opposes the Heathrow expansion and said the debate had been a “disgrace to our democracy” at times. 

“Although the specific direct action can at times cause some short term inconvenience, by highlighting a threat like climate change, it can have a longer term and more significant effect on averting the impact of a greater risk,” he said.

Who are the 13 activists? 

The Heathrow 13 group includes a number of researchers, residents living under the flight path and charity workers. 

They are Sam Sender, 23; Cameron Kaye, 23; Ella Gilbert, 23; Edward Thacker, 26; Alistair Tamlit, 27;  Danielle Paffard, 28; Rebecca Sanderson, 28; Richard Hawkins, 32; Kara Moses, 32;  Melanie Strickland, 32; Graham Thompson, 42;  Sheila Menon, 44;  and Robert Basto, 67.