MP JOHN McDonnell will give evidence at the trial of 13 Plane Stupid protesters accused of blocking a runway at Heathrow Airport in summer 2015.
The Hayes & Harlington MP and Shadow Chancellor, who is a long-standing opponent of airport expansion, is expected to take the stand on Friday (January 22) in support of the campaigners, who are charged with aggravated trespass and entering a security restricted area of an aerodrome.
They allegedly cut a hole in a fence to access the northern runway at Heathrow Airport on July 13.
The defendants pleaded not guilty at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on August 19 and the trial resumed at Willesdon Magistrates’ Court on Monday (January 18), with Green Party leader Natalie Bennett among the supporters outside the court.
The Plane Stupid activists will call Mr McDonnell and the Green party mayoral candidate, Sian Berry, as well as climate scientist Alice Bows-Larkin.
Spokesman Sam Jones said: “Plane Stupid took action last July to stop emissions from aircraft.
“Aviation is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions and Heathrow is the biggest airport in Europe by a long way. Building a third runway ONE of RAF Northolt’s most historic squadrons celebrated its 100th anniversary last week.
32 (The Royal) Squadron, based at RAF Northolt, was formed at Netheravon in Wiltshire on January 12, 1916.
To commemorate the occasion, the Squadron’s Officer Commanding, Wing Commander Steve Courtnadge presided over a lunch at RAF Northolt Officers’ Mess, after which he revealed the centenary artwork that will adorn the tail of BAe 146, tail number ZE700. The stringed hunting horn that is featured is taken from the Squadron’s official crest.
He said: “32 Squadron has a tremendous history and heritage and is as operationally relevant today as it has ever been, with a superb team behind it. We’re all very proud to be part of that. The Squadron is in a great position as it enters its second century of operations and for me personally, it’s a huge honour to reveal our centenary artwork today.” would cross a red line that would jeopardise our ability to combat climate change.
“This isn’t about people taking business trips or their annual holidays, this is about the minority of frequent leisure fliers who take trips to their second homes, weekend breaks and tax havens – that 15% of the UK population takes 70% of the UK’s flights.”
Just as it did during the previous court hearing, a demonstration in support of the activists took place outside the court on Monday, organised by campaign group Reclaim the Power.
They staged a ‘red line’ protest with giant two metre high inflatable cobblestones highlighting the agreement made in Paris last month and the incompatibility of that agreement with aviation expansion.
Mr Jones added: “David Cameron famously asserted in 2010 that Heathrow would not be expanded, ‘no ifs, no buts’.
“The fact that the government is now U-turning spectacularly on this promise demonstrates why you can’t leave this sort of thing to politicians.”