In March 2017 a group of activists surrounded a plane at Stansted Airport in a peaceful protest, to stop what they believed was the unlawful deportation of 60 people on a charter flight to Ghana and Nigeria.
Charged with ‘endangering safety at aerodromes’ – an obscure piece of anti-terror legislation brought in after the 1988 Lockerbie Bombing – the ‘Stansted 15’ faced maximum possible sentences of life imprisonment. After a protracted and high profile court case they were all found guilty. Sentences were handed down in February 2019 – in the end, all non-custodial.
The heavy-handed prosecution of the Stansted 15 feels emblematic of our dark political times. But equally, the group’s story shows the importance, and efficacy, of solidarity through direct action.
This month we are joined by Lyndsay Burtonshaw and Laura Clayson, two of the Stansted 15. We talk about the government’s deportation charter flights, the colonial mentality underpinning the ‘hostile environment’, and what led them both to take the action they did. We also hear some of the stories of the people who were on the plane bound for deportation and discuss the many ways in which people can offer solidarity and take action.
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