A group of activists who shut down the Stansted Airport in the United Kingdom in 2017 will not face immediate jail time.
Known as the Stansted 15, the protesters broke into the airport by cutting through a fence, chained themselves together under a plane, and prevented the plane from taking off. Despite breaking the law by breaking into the airport and causing it to shut down for an hour, with planes diverted to other locations, the group has been spared jail time.
The cost of the airport shutdown was £1 Million.
The group was convicted in December “of endangering safety at an aerodrome under the 1990 Aviation and Maritime Security Act, a law brought in after the Lockerbie bombing,” according to CNN International. Despite this, “[t]hree of the activists were given suspended jail sentences, while the remaining 12 were handed community orders, according to the UK’s Press Association.”
The Stansted 15 is a group of people aged 27 to 44 who were trying to stop the plane from taking off because it contained 60 people who UK officials determined were illegal immigrants. The group claimed that “many of the 60 on board still had legal rights to appeal their decisions – such as asylum seekers whose applications to stay had been rejected,” according to BBC reporter Dominic Casciani. At least 25 of those on board, however, were convicted criminals, Casciani reported. There was even a convicted murder on the plane.
Casciani also reported that “23 incoming flights were diverted to other English airports” because of the protest.