Parliament protester fines for trespass
PUBLISHED: 13:48 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:37 07 September 2010
A BELSIZE climate change campaigner was found guilty of trespass after she and four others scaled the Houses of Parliament to protest against Heathrow expansion plans. Tamsin Omond, together with Olivia Chessell, Alexander George, Leo Murray and Graham Th
A BELSIZE climate change campaigner was found guilty of trespass after she and four others scaled the Houses of Parliament to protest against Heathrow expansion plans.
Tamsin Omond, together with Olivia Chessell, Alexander George, Leo Murray and Graham Thompson, unfurled banners from the roof and threw paper aeroplanes onto people below.
The group, called Plane Stupid, carried out the stunt to highlight a conspiracy they believed was taking place between BAA and the Department of Transport, Westminster Magistrates Court heard.
They said they had tried every democratic avenue open to them to stop another runway being built, and the only course of action left to them was to scale the Houses of Parliament and attract the attention of the media.
They all denied a charge of trespass and put forward a defence under Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act which allows force to be used to prevent a crime - the crime, they believed, was the conspiracy.
But District Judge Nicholas Evans ruled this was not applicable and last week they were all found guilty for the February stunt.
Cambridge graduate Omond, 23, was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £150 costs while the others were fined £150 each and ordered to pay £200 each in costs as well as a £15 surcharge.
Sentencing the five, the judge said: "You caused no damage, you made no threats to anybody and it was a peaceful demonstration.
"It has no doubt caused considerable embarrassment to those who are concerned with security at the House of Commons that you were able to get onto the roof."
The campaigners sneaked in two banners, reading BAA HQ and NO THIRD RUNWAY, as well as handcuffs, past security - possibly with the help of a third party, the prosecution alleged.
Ms Omond said afterwards: "We got a fine which is pretty much what we were expecting. But we did get to air our arguments which was great.
"I am a bit disappointed our defence did not work but not surprised. We have been to Scotland Yard to report the crime of collusion in a public office and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance in the Department of Transport.
"They told us we couldn't report a crime there so we went to Belgravia and we are now waiting to see what happens."
Co-campaigner Mr Murray, who grew up in Archway, said: "The main thing for me is that the court declined to challenge the reasonability of our belief that there was collusion in the Department of Transport.
"There is also a question about the use of force - we didn't use force against anyone and that seems to be why our defence did not work.
"That is actually encouragement for activists like ourselves to use force, which is ridiculous. I am hoping now the police will investigate the collusion in the Department of Transport over the third runway at Heathrow.