It’s outrageous to send peaceful protesters to jail

My statement today in reaction to the news that thirteen Plane Stupid campaigners have been convicted and may face jail for peaceful direct action at Heathrow last summer:

“Right-thinking people across the country – even those who favour airport expansion – will be shocked and disappointed with the prospect of prison sentences for selfless, peaceful protestors.

“I was in court to support them last week and heard the many character references that were given, showing how these thirteen brave people are conscientious, caring and kind people whose longstanding commitment to the cause of stopping catastrophic climate change led them to take this action.

“By stopping the emissions from Heathrow for a morning they made a real difference, and their actions were only necessary because of the betrayal we have seen from the Prime Minister, who promised no new runways before he was elected, but has now made plans to expand the airports around London anyway.

“Many millions of lives are at stake if we don’t keep climate change within safe limits, and many thousands of people die already every year in London from air pollution. We should commend not condemn the people who are willing to take action when democracy fails.

“Putting people in prison will not make the protests or the case against airport expansion go away.

“The government started jailing peaceful road protesters in the 1990s and this just created more support for their cause. In the end that road-building programme was cancelled and I believe that there will be more campaigners and more protests as a result of today’s judgement – and that eventually the same will happen with the proposed runways.”