London

Black Lives Matter protesters admit London City Airport trespass

Protesters and police at City Airport Image copyright AFP
Image caption The group blocked the single runway by constructing a tripod and chaining themselves together

Nine people who stormed the runway at London City Airport as part of a Black Lives Matter protest have admitted aggravated trespass.

Up to 131 flights were grounded when the group chained themselves together at 05:30 BST on 6 September.

About 9,000 passengers were affected when the runway was shut until midday.

The group of nine all pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates' Court to aggravated trespass by disrupting a person engaged in a lawful activity.

They were all given an 18-month conditional discharge except for two defendants, Deborah Francis-Grayson and Alex Etchart, who had previous convictions for similar protests.

Francis-Grayson, 31, was given a three-year conditional discharge while Etchart, 26, received a two-year conditional discharge.

All nine defendants were also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £95.

Image copyright Black Live Matters
Image caption The group released images on social media during the protest
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The protesters used inflatable rafts to gain access to the airport

The court heard the nine protesters used rafts to cross the surrounding river.

They then climbed the dock to access the runway where they set up a tripod and one person chained himself to the tarmac.

The other protesters then fixed themselves together with armlocks which contained a metal tube and expandable foam.

The defendants

  • William Pettifer, 27, of Radford Mill Farm, Radford
  • Esme Waldron, 23, of Walmer Crescent, Brighton
  • Sama Baka, 27, who lives on a houseboat called the Northern Soul
  • Alex Etchart, who also lives on a houseboat called the Northern Soul
  • Sam Lund-Harket, 32, who also lives on a houseboat called the Northern Soul
  • Natalie Fiennes, 25, of Thurleigh Road, Wandsworth
  • Deborah Francis-Grayson, of St Mary's Road, Slough
  • Richard Collet-White, 23, of Spring Road, Kempston
  • Ben Tippet, 24, of Thurleigh Road, Wandsworth

Sentencing, District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe said she did not "underestimate the sincerity of your beliefs" but found it "hard to see the link between the [Black Lives Matter] protest movement" and City Airport.

She said the disruption caused was not "a minor matter" as it "put fears and doubts in minds" that areas of the airport "are easily accessible".

Prosecutor Philip McGhee said the disruption had "inevitably" caused a negative reputation to the airport and airlines but it was "not possible to quantify" the costs.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Up to 131 flights were grounded by the protest
Image copyright PA
Image caption All the protesters were arrested after they were removed by police

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