Freedom News

Three charged with offences carrying life imprisonment sentence for blocking Jamaica deportation

Three people have been charged and will be tried next year for blocking a road outside Brook House Immigration Removal Centre at Gatwick Airport in November 2021 to prevent people being forcibly removed to Jamaica.

The protestors have been charged with aggravated trespass and causing a public nuisance after they locked on to each other using metal pipes on a road outside Brook House on 9th November 2021. They will be tried by a jury at Lewes Crown Court on 30th May 2023, during a seven day trial. They are crowdfunding to support the costs of their case.

Public nuisance is an archaic common law offence which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. It has been described by the Law Commission as “unclear and ill-defined”, and the common law offence was abolished last year after it became a statutory offence under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 with a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment. Historically, it has been used to prosecute and criminalise gay men and women for displays of affection in public. Other protestors charged with causing a public nuisance include the Paralympian James Brown, who was convicted and sentenced to 12 months in prison for glueing himself to a plane at London City Airport to protest about the climate crisis.

Aggravated trespass is an offence under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and carries a maximum sentence of 3 months in prison, or a fine of £2,500, or both.

The deportation flight to Jamaica in November 2021 was initially intended to carry as many as 50 people. They included a 20-year-old woman who had been in the country since she was 13 and has no relatives in Jamaica. Three allegedly had direct Windrush connections through grandparents or other older relatives. At least ten had come to Britain aged 16 or younger, and five had come at 10 or younger. Nine of them had been in the UK for 20 years or longer. Many of them have British children, and as up to 24 children would have lost their fathers had the flight left with all intended.

In the end, just four people boarded the flight from Birmingham airport.

Stop Deportations said: 

“Blocking the road from Brook House prevented people being violently and cruelly taken away from their families and loved ones. Many of those who were due to be deported to Jamaica arrived in the UK as children and have family here including children, some had Windrush connections and some are potential trafficking survivors. They did not receive proper legal advice or time to challenge their deportation, so direct action was necessary to prevent it. 

“The government is now aggressively trying to suppress opposition and scare people from protesting and similar direct action by charging three people with such serious offences.

“By blocking the detention centre, we not only condemn this charter flight, but we stand with all those locked in detention centres, subject to deportations and otherwise oppressed by racist border controls.

“We reject the legitimacy of the entire deportation regime. It is premised on racist notions of Black, Brown and Racialised people – from their disproportionate treatment in the criminal injustice system to their demonisation by the Home Office.”

Image: Stop Deportations

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