Lancaster's ex union president learns today if she will be jailed for life over airport protest

Protesters including a former Lancaster woman who blocked a flight from taking off will find out today if they face life in jail.

By Emma Pearson
Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 7:11 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:51 pm
Laura Clayson was convicted under anti-terror laws
Laura Clayson was convicted under anti-terror laws

The 'Stansted 15' protesters blocked the take-off of a deportation flight from Stansted Airport in 2017.

They were convicted last year under terrorism legislation which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Among the protesters was Laura Clayson, 28, the former president of the Lancaster Students Union.

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Laura Clayson was convicted under anti-terror laws

The activists cut through the airport's perimeter fence and locked themselves together around a Boeing 767 jet chartered by the Home Office to transport people from UK detention centres for repatriation to Africa.

It happened in March 2017 and the so-called Stansted 15 were convicted in December 2018 following a nine-week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.

The defendants were found guilty of the intentional disruption of services at an aerodrome, contrary to section 1 (2) (b) of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990.

Lawyers for the activists said this law was passed in response to the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

In a statement released after their conviction, the defendants said they were "guilty of nothing more than intervening to prevent harm".

They are appealing against their conviction.

Raj Chada, partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, which represents the activists, described their conviction as a "travesty of justice that needs correcting in the appeal courts".

He said the defendants, aged between 27 and 44, face up to life imprisonment when they are sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court.

They are: Helen Brewer, 29, Lyndsay Burtonshaw, 28, Nathan Clack, 30, Laura Clayson, 28, Melanie Evans, 35, Joseph McGahan, 35, Benjamin Smoke, 27, Jyotsna Ram, 33, Nicholas Sigsworth, 29, Melanie Strickland, 35, Alistair Tamlit, 30, Edward Thacker, 29, Emma Hughes, 38, May McKeith, 33, and Ruth Potts, 44.