Why was ev­i­dence ig­nored?

Run­way pro­tes­tors say judge ex­cluded ex­pert wit­nesses

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Kather­ine Cle­men­tine kather­ine.cle­men­tine@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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

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