‘This is no more than a litigation of political opinion.’ The Trial of the Stansted 15: Narrating Politics in the Criminal Trial, 27 March, 2019

Dr Steven Cammiss, Leicester Law School

In December 2018 a group of 15 activists were convicted at Chelmsford Crown Court of the offence of endangering the safety of an aerodrome, contrary to s1 of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 (which carries a maximum sentence of life). Based upon observations of the 9-week trial, this paper seeks to explore the means by which the activists were able to voice their motives for action, including matters such as the potential for harm to detainees on the flight, the risk of harm to the detainees in their home country, and the Home Office’s policy of ‘deport first, appeal later’. While the trial judge ruled, at the conclusion of the evidence, that necessity (or duress of circumstances) could not be put to the jury, the fact that the ruling came at the conclusion of the evidence allowed these claims to be made in evidence. This paper will, therefore, explore how the activists’ motives were framed within this defence and, importantly, how their voices were somewhat distorted by that process. It will conclude with an examination of the usefulness, or otherwise, of a ‘necessity’ defence for direct action protestors.

Part of the Criminal Law, Criminal Justice and Criminology research cluster at Leicester Law School.

Details

Date and time: Wednesday, 27 March 2019, 2—4pm

Location: Room 164, Jan Grodecki Room, Fielding Johnson Building, University of Leicester Law School

Event open to: All

Further information: steven.camiss@le.ac.uk