HS2 ‘bitterly disappointed’ after Euston Square tunnels case dropped

·2-min read

HS2 has said it is “bitterly disappointed” after charges against climate change protesters who occupied tunnels near Euston Station were dropped.

Daniel Hooper, 48, also known as “Swampy”, Dr Larch Maxey, 49, Isla Sandford, 18, Lachlan Sandford, 20, Juliett Stevenson-Clarke, 22, and Scott Breen, 47, all faced charges of obstructing or disrupting a person engaged in a lawful activity, which they denied, after digging tunnels underneath Euston Square in north London and living inside them for a month.

Dr Maxey also denied a charge of criminal damage of a mobile phone.

The trial was due to run until Friday but the case was dropped on Wednesday, the Guardian newspaper reported.

An HS2 spokesperson said they were “bitterly disappointed” with the outcome of the case.

They added: “The actions of these illegal trespassers put their own lives at risk, as well as the lives of our staff, agents and those of the emergency service personnel who worked around the clock to ensure the well-being of people who placed themselves in such a dangerous situation underground.

“This action was an enormous waste of public money, especially during the pandemic, and we are bitterly disappointed that the court has not found fit to convict these individuals for their dangerous and irresponsible actions.”

(Left to right) Anti-HS2 activist Juliett Stephenson-Clarke, who is also known as Nemo, Anti-HS2 activist Blue Sandford, 18, daughter of Scottish landowner Roc Sandford, Veteran environmental activist Daniel Hooper, who is also known as Swampy and Anti-HS2 activist Larch Maxey outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court
Anti-HS2 activists outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court, central London, in February (Luciana Guerra/PA)

The Guardian reported that District Judge Susan Williams dropped the case because HS2 was not carrying out construction work on the site when the charges were made against the protesters.

The network of tunnels were created in secret by protesters who object to the redevelopment of Euston Square Gardens as part of the high-speed railway line, Highbury Magistrates Court heard on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Sarah Gaby told the court that HS2 possessed the area and contractors were due to start work before the discovery of the tunnels on January 26.

Two days later, HS2 issued a warrant ordering protesters off the site.

On February 19, a High Court injunction ruled the group were to stop tunnelling and tell HS2, the Health and Safety Executive, London Fire Brigade and the police how many people were inside.

The last person did not leave until February 26.

The Crown Prosecution Service has been contacted for comment.

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