The Stansted 15 outside Chelmsford Crown Court. All photos: Chris Bethell 
Stansted 15

A Judge Said He Won't Jail the 'Stansted 15' Activists

Protesters gathered as anti-deportation protesters were sentenced today.
06 February 2019, 1:03pm

Fifteen anti-deportation activists today looked likely to swerve jail time after a judge said that their peaceful protest did not reach the "threshold for immediate custody".

Known as "the Stansted 15", the group had cut a fence at the airport and laid on the tarmac, chaining themselves together and forming a ring around a Boeing 767 that was about to deport 60 people. Last month, the group was found guilty of endangering the safety of an aerodrome; human rights campaigners have claimed that the charges brought against them were excessive.

As the sentencing was awaited today at Chelmsford Crown Court, anti-deportation activists reported further mass deportation flights to Jamaica, including of descendants of the "Windrush" generation who have lived in the UK for decades. The "hostile environment" continues.

If there was any real justice, the activists would probably be given some kind of award, perhaps a large cake, a novelty-sized cheque for thousands of pounds and a free holiday. For now, though, they'll have to settle for not doing hard time, although 12 of them were given community orders and three were given suspended sentences.

Perhaps they can also find some comfort in the fact that they had a large number of supporters outside the court cheering them on.

VICE photographer Chris Bethell was outside the court to capture the scene.