'Thank goodness we are not yet being shot in the street for protesting'

HS2 protest at Euston Station

Tony Berkeley at Euston station with Rollie Diggaholey, an activist from Euston Square Gardens Tunnel  - Credit: Dorothea Hackman

As Tony Berkeley told us on September 9, when we were protesting at Euston station with the North London Drummers, Boris the Bank Engine and, representing High Speed 2, Nelly the ruinously expensive white elephant: the track for the HS2 project will not be completed before 2041 and it will now cost £170 billion plus rolling stock (parliament was told 2031 and £55B).

In addition, there is still no plan for bringing HS2 into Euston, and the rolling stock is being made by Siemens in Germany.

This is no surprise to the many petitioners from Euston, because we had interim figures in our petitions to the select committees mid decade, even though parliament ignored the impending catastrophe. Here he is at Euston station with Rollie Diggaholey, one of the climate activists from Euston Square Gardens Tunnel.

Well, now we have the letter from Michael Byng distributed by Lord Berkeley, and surely the government cannot ignore that - it is time to cancel HS2.

Thank goodness we have the rule of law in this country and we are not yet being shot in the street for protesting. And our judiciary refuse to allow government to use legislation for purposes for which it was not intended, such as preventing protest. 

Dorothea Hackman

Dorothea Hackman says it is time to cancel HS2 - Credit: Dorothea Hackman

We have already seen the courts refuse the misuse of Section 14, of Covid-19 regulation, of trade union legislation. Remarkably few of the climate activists who have been arrested have been charged or come to court and incredibly few convicted, just nine out of 400 I heard.

The week we have experienced a glorious example of a refusal to allow the charge of aggravated trespass be used against protesters when district judge Susan Williams dismissed the charges against the tunnellers from Euston Square Gardens East in February this year. Not only were HS2 not undertaking construction at that point nor about to commence, but they had in fact had recourse to the civil courts since December, meaning there was no need for urgent criminal proceeding.

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There was massive relief just before lunch on the second day of the trial Wednesday 6, at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court, as ITN Solicitors made the argument and the prosecution case crumbled.

The heroes here are the nine tunnellers and their allies, who built an astonishingly excellent tunnel without anyone noticing, that kept them safe for a month. They achieved massive attention to the destructive nature of polluting infrastructure projects like HS2 (and Edmonton Incinerator, and the Silvertown tunnel) that hasten the tipping point to climate and ecological catastrophe.

Shamefully, another hero, Paralympian gold medalist James Brown, is sitting in HMP Wandsworth with a year's sentence for gluing his hand on top of a plane at City Airport. What an appalling treatment of a man blind since birth. Happy Birthday James!

Dorothea Hackman is chair of Camden Civic Society.