Plane Stupid: doors and perception
13 Nov 08

It didn’t take District Judge Nicholas Evans long to come up with a verdict in the case of the five Plane Stupid protesters charged under SOCPA this morning. All were found guilty and four ordered to pay a fine and costs totalling £365. The youngest defendant, Tamsin Omand, was ordered to pay just £150 costs, on account of her previously unblemished record. Considering their crime — trespass on a designated area — carries a potential jail sentence, one could say they got off lightly.

The morning’s brief discussion centred on rather bizarre arguments over whether the opening of an unlocked door could constitute force legally (the five had gone through an unlocked, unmonitored door on the way to the roof of the building). The defence argued that there was precedent allowing the use of force to prevent a crime (the crime, in this case, being what Plane Stupid claim is ‘collusion’ between interested parties in the consultation on the building of a third runway at Heathrow airport).

In the end, Mr Evans decided that opening a door did not constitute use of force, and even if it did, it would no have immediately prevented the ‘crime’ being committed.

This important distinction having been made, the district judge delivered his verdict.

After formalities were over, Leo Murray optimistically claimed that the fact no-one had challenged whether the group were right, or had a right, to believe that ‘collusion’ was taking place, was of great importance to the Plane Stupid campaign. Buoyed by this thought, the five and a small group of supporters set off to Scotland Yard, eager to present their dossier of evidence on collusion to the unsuspecting desk sergeant.