Thursday 22 February 2018

Everything you need to know about the anti-deportation protest at Stansted Airport

By Prudence Wade

Tuesday night saw 14 activists taking a stand.

A group of activists brought some flights at Stansted Airport to a halt. Here’s everything you need to know about the protest.

What happened?

Protesters blocked a non-commercial runway at Stansted, causing flights to be temporarily suspended.

The group entered a secure area and erected a blockade near a non-commercial runway. Essex Police said they were called by airport officials at 9.30pm on Tuesday after protesters “gained access to Stansted Airport air-side”.

Police quickly contained the incident and flights resumed, but several activists remained at the scene into the early hours of Wednesday.

Who was behind the protest?

Campaign group Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSMigrants) said some of its members, along with individuals from End Deportations and Plane Stupid, were behind the bid to halt a “mass deportation flight” destined for Nigeria and Ghana.

The protest was live-streamed on the Stop Charter Flights Facebook page.

The page says the 14 activists “blockaded a mass deportation flight and stopped it from forcibly deporting dozens of people to Nigeria and Ghana”.

Why were they protesting?

Susan James, from Plane Stupid, said: “Mass deportations like the one we stopped tonight are immoral, unfair and illegal.

“I don’t want to stay silent in the face of mass deportations that are deliberately rushed and secretive.”

What has the Home Office said about the situation?

A Home Office spokesman said they do not comment on operational activity, but added: “We respect everyone’s right to peaceful protest but we are clear that removal is an essential element of an effective immigration system.

“We expect those with no legal basis to remain in the UK to leave voluntarily but, if they do not, we will seek to enforce their departure.”

What was the result of the protests?

Essex Police said three arrests were made.

Acting Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan said: “We have contingency plans in place for any incident at the airport and have quickly contained the protesters in one area with minimal impact on airport operations and procedures.

“We continue to work closely with our partners and the airport authority as we are working to apprehend the protesters quickly and effectively.”

An airport spokesman said it was a “quiet period” and flights had resumed by 11.15pm on Tuesday.

Press Association

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