Green British Airport Trespassers Avoid Jail

Original image author Chris Potter,, image modified
Original image author Chris Potter,, image modified

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The Heathrow 13, a group of green anti-flight activists who were convicted of cutting the perimeter fence and disrupting flight operations, at one of the busiest airports in the world, will not face jail – unless they do it again.

According to The Guardian;

Six women and seven men have avoided jail for trespassing at Heathrow, following a protest against the possible expansion of the airport.

The activists, dubbed the Heathrow 13, were given sentences of six weeks suspended for 12 months, meaning they would not have to go to prison immediately.

They had been found guilty in January of aggravated trespass and entering a security-restricted area of an aerodrome. They had been warned by district judge Deborah Wright to expect a custodial sentence.

A loud cheer went up as the defendants left the dock. Outside the court, one of them, Danielle Paffard, said: “I’m so relieved. It’s a triumph for democracy, a triumph for the movement.” She said that while the sentence meant she was banned from Heathrow for a year, others would continue protesting against the third runway.

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This ridiculously light sentence seems a continuation of Britain’s developing tradition of extraordinary leniency towards green protestors. Greenpeace protestors who were accused of causing £30,000 of criminal damage to a British coal station in 2008, were found not guilty – the court accepted their climate defence.

What sort of message does this leniency send to investors, if their British investments might attract attention from green groups?

Britain desperately needs to attract more investment into their creaking energy infrastructure. Many British airports, roads and railways also need substantial upgrades. But green fanatics oppose any form of investment which might lead to increased CO2 emissions.

Even if investors are prepared to brave Britain’s notoriously fickle, high risk energy policy landscape, will they also be prepared to face unconstrained green activism? How can investors be confident the law will protect their property, when green fanatics believe they won’t be punished, even if they cause substantial criminal damage?

Worse, this apparent green license to flout the law potentially weakens Britain’s security. Imagine a terrorist breaking into Heathrow, or even a nuclear reactor, to conduct reconnaissance for an attack; if they are caught, perhaps all they have to do is claim to be a green activist, to avoid a custodial sentence.

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February 24, 2016 12:06 pm

Well, in their defence, they did try to win at the elections and the silly people didn’t vote for them.
So they had to try direct action.
They’re like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela… except with better access to the ballot box.
Actually, they’re more like the Brownshirts.

Harry Passfield
Reply to  MCourtney
February 24, 2016 2:35 pm

MC: You mean, they had better access to sharp lawyers.

Pat Frank
Reply to  MCourtney
February 24, 2016 4:18 pm

Martin Luther King was an American hero, MCourtney, and his cause was enormously just; entirely unlike empty-minded green eco-sentimentalism.
In his day, segregation was vile, and racism in the US was a widespread disease; one of which US society has by now mostly cured itself.

Phil R
Reply to  Pat Frank
February 25, 2016 6:13 am

Matthew Weaver,
Don’t want to stray too far OT down the political path, but I wonder if you live in or near one of those democrat-governed social utopias like Detroit, Flint or Chicago that either are, or near, bankruptcy and have such stellar records regarding minorities.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Pat Frank
February 25, 2016 8:47 am

Matthew Weaver — Typical ad hom reply from someone without an actual case.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Pat Frank
February 27, 2016 8:46 am

Mod, please put Matthew Weaver’s reply back in. He deserves his say, and free speech requires that he get to say it. No matter his views. After doing that, this one, though, please delete. 🙂

Tom Halla
February 24, 2016 12:11 pm

I thought US judges were bad!

February 24, 2016 12:13 pm

This is already the case in France: break the fence of a NPP (nuclear power plant), you won’t be shot.
All you have to do is claim to be Greenpeace.

UK Sceptic
February 24, 2016 12:21 pm

The British justice system is a cringe-worthy embarrassment. It doesn’t just fail to punish greenie luddites for their criminal activities it fails on all fronts.
What these idiots did was DANGEROUS. To themselves, the airport staff and passengers.
Justice is supposed to be impartial, not lobotomised.

February 24, 2016 12:34 pm

So if I were to smash my way into Greenpricks headquarters and chain myself to the front door to stop them getting in to plan more of this sort of hooliganism, you know, to save innocent people from the dangers of green trespass, could I also expect a lenient sentence on the grounds that I am acting out of my conviction that I am helping others?
…I doubt it.

Reply to  Erny72
February 24, 2016 1:00 pm

..They would throw their Marxist books at you !!

Reply to  Erny72
February 24, 2016 1:02 pm

That would not fit the green definition of being democratic. When the green lunatics destroy property and cause damage that is democratic, not sabotage, but if you do it, you are a saboteur and the full weight of the law should fall on you.
We have similar idiots in Australia who received a slap on the wrist for damaging a coal train to try to block a port. There was a fair uproar over the light sentences , so maybe the tide is turning.
However there are funny episodes. A farmer went out into his paddock and saw a greenie chained to his bulldozer. The green in a smug way said he would not move. The farmer said, the protest is on the other side of the road, not on my place and went about his day.
On the other hand, the greens in Tasmania tried to torment a bloke by abusing his employees until they all left. They were trying to force him to sell the place to the government at a huge discount. It went to court, the greens lost. Can’t recall any penalty for the greens.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Erny72
February 24, 2016 2:14 pm

Pretty sure the denizens of this site would line up to help with your legal bills at least. Count me in.

Reply to  Erny72
February 25, 2016 3:50 pm

they would denounce you as a right wing zealot and through your ass in jail

February 24, 2016 12:35 pm

What next, breaking in and slashing the plane tyres to make sure they don’t take off?

Reply to  Craig
February 25, 2016 1:17 am

FFS Craig !!!!! – Please don’t give the silly little shites any ideas………….

February 24, 2016 12:37 pm

Did they give them free tickets also?

February 24, 2016 12:38 pm

…don’t let anyone in Chicago hear this

February 24, 2016 12:47 pm

I would call this a miscarriage of justice.

Reply to  admad
February 24, 2016 1:03 pm

The insanity of liberal judges never sleeps….or thinks, or does anything else useful !

Ian Magness
February 24, 2016 12:52 pm

“Leniency toward green protestors”?
Err, no we are really soft on all criminals, especially serious ones and those that can use European courts to claim “human rights”.
We are, of course, really tough on smaller misdemeanours carried out by law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. There are times when I we might even benefit from a short spell of Donald Trump.

Half tide rock
Reply to  Ian Magness
February 24, 2016 1:26 pm

I am in hysterics watching the oligopoly try to deal with a voter revolution. They are really off their game! Snark! Good for Trump, Cruz, Rubio and uncle Bernie ( the first three in no particular order.) If the oligopoly crushes this one the next will be more dangerous. My sense is that the population republican and democrat has had it with the self serving idiots!

February 24, 2016 12:55 pm

What a dangerous precedent. How long until terrorists use the green mask to conduct their agenda?

Reply to  RWturner
February 25, 2016 12:10 pm

“How long until terrorists use the green mask to conduct their agenda?”
Isn’t that what’s happening already?

February 24, 2016 12:56 pm

Suppose they had disrupted or cancelled the flights to COP21? The whole enterprise could have been put in jeopardy. Heaven forbid! Reminds me of the queer logic used by our political leaders here in Quebec who are fighting the construction of the Energy East pipeline on environmental grounds while petitioning the Federal government to bail out aircraft manufacturer Bombardier so that it can continue manufacturing fossil fuel burning planes.

February 24, 2016 12:58 pm

..Hey, who broke the rating system above…?? … I demand my vote !! LOL

Rhoda R
February 24, 2016 1:01 pm

So the next time Greenpeace wants to disrupt flights all they have to do is get seven or so DIFFERENT volunteers.

Reply to  Rhoda R
February 24, 2016 2:04 pm

Yep! I wonder how long it will take for the courts to wake up to that one.

Reply to  Rhoda R
February 24, 2016 3:35 pm

So the next time Greenpeace wants to disrupt flights all they have to do is get seven or so DIFFERENT volunteers heroes martyrs idiots.”

February 24, 2016 1:07 pm

Just for perspective, would one of the many Brit WUWT readers care to tell this Yank what happens when someone gets caught accidentally putting cardboard in the plastics recycle bin?
Thanks in advance.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
February 24, 2016 1:19 pm

Eric, did you break the rating system above…again ?

Reply to  Eric Worrall
February 24, 2016 1:34 pm

..Well, I would give you 5 stars..if I could..LOL

Reply to  H.R.
February 24, 2016 2:29 pm

Never mind cardboard in the wrong slot.
Even laying down cardboard, by the cardboard slot, in the cardboard trug – yet not putting the cardboard slot, because said slot is full, jammed full – has brought a taxpayer a £70 fine for – honestly – fly tipping!
It’s being fought.
But . . .
HR – you are very aware!
Kudos to you and yours!
A little dischuffed, as may be understood, with some of our money-hungry councils.
Real fly tipping – confiscate their femurs, their vehicles, and their capillaries.
But wise up . . . . . . . .

Reply to  Auto
February 24, 2016 6:44 pm

Eric, Auto… It’s worse than I thought!

Reply to  H.R.
February 24, 2016 11:50 pm

I am a “Brit WUWT reader” who recycles nothing other than metals.
I do not separate any of my rubbish. I put all my rubbish in the landfill bin except for waste metal objects of some size (e.g. not merely bottle tops). I am provided with coloured containers in which to put separated stuff but I don’t use them because I refuse to condone the waste of recycling: I especially object to the gross waste of paper and glass recycling.
I put waste metal objects in the appropriate receptacle in the supermarket car park.
I have never been prosecuted or threatened with prosecution for refusing to ‘recycle’ and if any such unlikely prosecution were to occur then I would fight it in court.

Reply to  richardscourtney
February 25, 2016 2:25 am

Richard – the Catch-22 is that if you don’t help your local authority reach its recycling targets, the European Union will exact penalties from the UK Govt, the UK Govt will exact penalties from the local authority, and you’ll pay more local taxes. This is not a future contingency, this is now. You don’t have any option – you have to save the planet, even if you don’t want to!
ps – until very recently, I used to live in the London Borough of Wandsworth. Right up till I left, there was no pressure at all to recycle (or even exhortation to do so): the bin men took everything I ever put out, and in any quantity ( 2 bins + whatever black bin bags I put out) without demur. During the whole of my residency, they had the lowest or second lowest council tax in the country (which was actually zero for several years!) and they still won commendations for their recycling achievements. No doubt the government has been working out other ways to punish them for this, and I guess it won’t last.

Reply to  richardscourtney
February 25, 2016 3:15 am

Thanks for that. You make a good point about the ‘EU targets’.
For clarity to aid others wanting comparison of the circumstances you and I report, I add that I live in a very different place from London: I am in the outskirts of Falmouth.

Ex-expat Colin
Reply to  H.R.
February 25, 2016 1:16 am

Here in my part of Worcestershire (Wyre Forest region) one large green wheelie bin takes metal, card, paper, bottles etc. All food waste and similar goes in a grey wheelie. The green stuff is sorted at a local depot where in the case of plastic, card and paper it is pressed and stacked. However, those stacks have been left to compost and so fires have been raging for up to 3 months…in more than one place.

Reply to  Ex-expat Colin
February 25, 2016 3:46 pm

Maybe they should send all the paper to the Drax “biofuel” power plant

Reply to  Ex-expat Colin
February 25, 2016 7:04 pm

A few years ago someone near Bristol, I think it was, worked out a way to use waste cardboard efficiently for fuel. He couldn’t get permission to go ahead with it.

Reply to  Ex-expat Colin
February 25, 2016 7:12 pm

In our part of Gloucestershire a multi bin set up was brought in. It included a sack for paper and cardboard and a small, tightly-lidded bin for food waste. We had almost none as I am keen on using leftovers, composting,etc. we sometimes had the old bone remnants from stock, which I wrapped in newspaper and put into this bin. Mostly the recycling truck men forgot it as it was rarely out. One day I rang up the council to mention this and for the men please to check on their next visit. Well, almost immediately a complete rubbish vehicle turned up, the men tossed the contents of tiny bin into it and went on their way! At what cost, in every sense? No common sense, for sure.

Reply to  Ex-expat Colin
February 26, 2016 5:58 am

@ Ex-expat Colin
I have looked into this a bit and have talked to a friend who was involved in recycling research (in plastics but inevitably he picked up quite a lot about the whole field).
Getting people to sort stuff is poor to pointless as they get so much of it wrong and centralised sorting is much better. The first pass is normally automated. Ferrous metals are pulled off by magnets, some other metals (e.g. aluminium which is probably the most valuable) can be pulled off by inducing a magnetic field in it. Then in a water bath the glass sinks and the plastics float.
The one thing that must be kept separate if you want to recycle is paper (& card). In a mixed load this gets fine glass shards mixed in which makes it essentially useless.
However the market for recycled paper is variable and not great and so it may well be cheaper for them to dump this. Mu local council has recently dropped the paper collection from once a week to once a fortnight as the volume of paper being put out has declined so much.

Martin C
February 24, 2016 1:26 pm

Well I would like the airlines concerned to start a private prosecution for endangering the safety of an aircraft. I can’t take my nail clippers onboard but they can chain themselves together on a runway?

James Fosser
February 24, 2016 1:27 pm

So if Jack The Ripper is found he will be given a sentence of six weeks suspended for 12 months and told he will go to jail if he does it again? Fair enough.

john harmsworth
Reply to  James Fosser
February 24, 2016 2:17 pm

As long as he doesn’t drive to the location of his vicious acts, we would have to concede that the victim was likely breathing CO2 all over the place.

Peter Maxwell
February 24, 2016 1:29 pm

If these people had been from an Islamist background they would have been deemed terrorists and had the book thrown them. There is undoubtedly an inconsistency in English justice. Hopefully the prosecution will appeal and get the case taken up to a higher and more competent court.

Jimmy Haigh
February 24, 2016 1:30 pm

Ah the good old British establishment taking care of its own again.

February 24, 2016 1:31 pm

I suggest that until people come to their senses, Britain should only repave roads with logs or Belgian block. Crushed stone/gravel would also be acceptable. I after all, concrete needs to be made using coal, and asphalt requires oil. I suspect that after a suitable amount of time, they will have some sense jarred into them. If not, then they should be prohibited from buying anything made of steel. You need met coal for that stuff you know. Most especially, Pwince Upchuck The Adulterous should not benefit by any modern technology that uses fossil resources. Give him some potted plants and a corner in a garden to talk to them all winter in the cold.

Mike Spilligan
February 24, 2016 1:32 pm

Typical of our judges these days – and they don’t think beyond what’s immediately in front of them. These 13 won’t risk going to jail – they’ll just ask a dozen pals to do it instead – and I’ve no doubt a few other groups are being lined up to do just that.

February 24, 2016 1:38 pm
Jeff (FL)
February 24, 2016 1:57 pm

These people cut through the perimeter fence and had at least 5 uninterrupted minutes to get to the runway and chain themselves.
Good grief. This looks like a terrorist attack waiting to happen.
Note to jihadists – dress up as Polar Bears and tuck your AK47 under the costume and you’re good to go. Just make sure the zip is at the front.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Jeff (FL)
February 24, 2016 2:02 pm

I remember the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) some years ago. The movement decided to limit itself to lawfare apparently.

Jeff (FL)
Reply to  Tom Halla
February 24, 2016 2:56 pm

This happened in 1994 …
The IRA did usually telephone warnings. Wouldn’t expect the jihad crowd to be so considerate.
I recall that the then UK Government deployed troops in APCs to guard the perimeter. It strikes me as odd that current security at Heathrow seems very relaxed against what is a more difficult to defeat suicidal jihadi. I don’t think British airports even arm their perimeter security personnel.

February 24, 2016 2:08 pm

..Completely OT but incredibly awesome ! New from NASA…..

Jeff (FL)
Reply to  Marcus
February 24, 2016 3:05 pm

Thanks. That video is beautiful.

Reply to  Marcus
February 25, 2016 4:20 am

Makes us appreciate how insignificant we really are.
Mind blowing.

Patrick MJD
February 24, 2016 2:50 pm

I wonder how many have actually flown before?

Reply to  Patrick MJD
February 25, 2016 3:10 am

Noting he travels a lot for his work, the judge remarks to defendant Basto :”I cannot resist assuming that you may get there using air travel.”

Patrick MJD
February 24, 2016 5:53 pm

There is no such thing as Justice in the UK. There is, like Australia, New Zealand and teh US, a legal system. I would guess there was someone in that group who is wealthy or who has wealthy connections or has powerful political connections.

Jeff (FL)
Reply to  Patrick MJD
February 24, 2016 6:37 pm

I’m not sure if John McDonnell can be classed as a powerful political connection but he is certainly on their side and he is Shadow Chancellor … 🙂
Just curious, did you omit Canada because of a perception that justice is actually available there? ‘:-)

February 24, 2016 8:58 pm

Justice? Hell, there ain’t no justice, just procedure,. Only in Canada, eh?

February 24, 2016 9:09 pm

Here you can burn down and loot a major part of a city (Baltimore) with impunity, but if you occupy some almost empty Federal facility in the boondocks you get shot. Depends if you are for liberty or looting.

Reply to  Catcracking
February 25, 2016 3:23 pm


Peter Hannan
February 25, 2016 1:36 am

I wonder if Al Gore and all the jet-setting climate scientists support these people. I don’t: I’m a Brit living in Mexico, and jet planes are wonderful!

February 25, 2016 3:14 am

Shame the knuckleheads are not being sued by the folks who’s time was wasted by the selfish act.

February 25, 2016 3:22 am

Where are all these Rainbow Warriors when they’re really needed to stop their hypocritical gas guzzlers?

February 25, 2016 4:04 am

Look up Jon Moylan – forgery (of major bank stationery, at that) fraud and a number of Stockmarket offences. Then check out his sentence.

February 25, 2016 9:17 am

Slightly better reaction from a judge in the North East: 8 Friends of the Earth activists disrupted operations at Banks’ Shotton coal mine near Cramlington and were found guilty of aggravated trespass at Bedlington Magistrates Court on 16 December.
The eight pleaded guilty and received a criminal conviction for aggravated trespass and a fine of approx. £1,000 each, made up of £150 court costs and £850 towards Banks losses. They were given a 12-month conditional discharge and were given a court order not to go within 50m of a Banks site.
All of the protestors come from London. FoE have offered no explanation as to why none of their North East members were involved in the action.
The protest was supposedly aimed at Matt Ridley whose estate trust receives royalties from the mine operators.
The barrister appearing for the accused argued mitigating circumstances on the basis that it was a legitimate protest and that the protesters were frustrated by the lack of UK Government action to combat climate change. The District Judge presiding did not appear to be impressed by this argument and suggested that it was not appropriate for matters of national politics to be argued by way of illegal obstruction of legitimate coal mining operations in Northumberland.
A further protest member has pleaded not guilty. He is still on police bail and is due to appear in court again for trial in March.

February 25, 2016 2:28 pm

Maybe a few Brits should knock down a few wind turbines, dynamite would do it, and claim that they are saving the birds from being chopped up and see what happens in the courts. Would be interesting.

February 25, 2016 3:31 pm

A massachusetts D.A. refused to prosecute two clowns who blocked a goal ship when they claimed they were concerned about climate change

February 25, 2016 7:54 pm

This documentary covered a group called “Just Plane Stupid.” The nitwits seem to think the laws don’t apply to them…and they seem to be right.

David Cage
February 26, 2016 7:37 am

It is a disgrace that the court accepted the climate defence when climate change as a problem to the world has never had a trial in court to form a basis for that conclusion. To say the fossil fuel suppliers have committed a greater crime but to have failed to even attempt to take them to court before taking vigilante action should have really got them a double sentence not a reduced one. It shows a clear cut and immoral bias by the judge who should be struck off.
So will I get let off if I vandalise Greenpeace and FOE buildings . Of course not. I do not have a powerful and immoral lobby group to back me.

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