Why was evidence ignored?
Runway protestors say judge excluded expert witnesses
A JUDGE’S decision not to call expert witnesses in the trial of the 13 Plane Stupid protesters is ‘suspicious’ according to one of the campaigners who wanted to testify.
Nic Ferriday from Friends of the Earth had wanted to speak on behalf of defendants, alongside Hayes and Harlington MP John McDonnell, and Sian Berry, the Green Party London Mayoral candidate.
But he was barred by District Judge Deborah Wright at Willesden Magistrates’ Court who ruled the evidence was ‘irrelevant’ to the charges of aggravated trespass and entering a security restricted area of Heathrow Airport.
Mr Ferriday said: “Not wanting to hear evidence from experts is very suspicious – but not at all surprising.
“All the omens were that the defendants would be found guilty. The case was brought by the Government which wants a third runway at Heathrow.
“In this way the case against 13 people could be heard by a single establishment figure, in this case Magistrate Ms Wright. Why would she want to hear ‘inconvenient’ evidence from expert witnesses?”
The Plane Stupid 13, , seven men and six women,, included four from Sipson n and West Drayton.
They cut through a perimeter fence on the e night of July 13 last year r before chainingg themselves up at t Heathrow’s North h Runway and causing 255 flight cancellations.
They hoped to use the e defence of necessity by arguing their actions were necessary to prevent t climate change, but were e instead found convicted d of the charges they facedd and told to expect jail on February 24.
Mr Ferriday explained that his evidence would have shown how the Airports Commission’s reports on air pollution had been ‘slanted’ and the ‘impacts played down’ so that a third runway could go ahead.
“It would demonstrated that have
the conventional democratic system with its so-called ‘independent’ commissions, consultations does not work.
“As far as I am aware, no one before has covered the social and political context of Heathrow and air pollution.”
In her summing up statement, Judge Wright said: “Some, if not all of the defendants are convinced that the pollutants from aviation near Heathrow are responsible for a number of deaths annually.
“I have been told by some of the defendants that 31 people die each year within a 32 kilometre radius of Heathrow because of the emissions generated by aircraft using the airport.
“I received no expert evidence in this respect but I accept and I make it clear that I do not find that the assertion is true, but I accept that the defendants believe that it is.”
n PROTEST: Activists who occupied the northern runway at Heathrow have been told to expect jail on February 24