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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

15 on terror trial over airport deportation protest

The protest hauled the deportation of 34 migrants at Stansted airport last year

The 15 demonstrators have been charged with terror offences over their protest at London's Stansted airport last year. Emirates
The 15 demonstrators have been charged with terror offences over their protest at London's Stansted airport last year. Emirates

A group of activists accused of attempting to block a plane carrying migrants set for deportation from the United Kingdom begins this week.

The group, dubbed the "Stansted 15", blocked a chartered plane due to deport 34 asylum seekers back to countries including Nigeria and Ghana.

The defendants - a number of them are controversially on trial for terrorism related offences - were supported by more than 200 protesters who gathered outside Chelmsford Crown Court,.

The trial had initially been scheduled to take place in March, but was postponed, with the jury being sworn in on Monday afternoon.

The case has attracted widespread criticism, including from Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, who said that the case was a disgrace.

“Sending solidarity to Stansted15 - who face trial for terrorism charges today for bravely stopping a deportation flight.

“Because of their actions, 34 people were allowed to stay in the UK to continue their asylum claims.

“It's a disgrace this overblown case ever reached court.”

The trial comes just weeks after the unfolding of a crisis involving British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Hostile Environment policy – an effort to make the conditions unwelcoming to those seeking to arrive illegally, or seek asylum, in an effort to deter them, ultimately bringing immigration figures down.

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The set of policies was widely criticised earlier this year, and in June Home Secretary Sajid Javid vowed to review the policy.

Yet Mrs May refused to apologise for the set of policies when pressed on British TV over the weekend, instead defending its intentions. “The policy, the purpose of the policy, it was to ensure – and we maintain a compliant environment policy – to ensure that those people who are here illegally are identified and appropriate action is taken,” she said.

The efforts aroused scandal earlier this year when it was revealed that a number of legal migrants had been wrongly deported under the Prime Minister’s tenure as Home Secretary.