HS2 protesters who dug tunnel under Euston walk free from court after judge dismisses charges

·2-min read
Activists spent more than a month in the tunnel under Euston Square  (HS2 Rebellion/AFP via Getty)
Activists spent more than a month in the tunnel under Euston Square (HS2 Rebellion/AFP via Getty)

Six protestors who occupied a tunnel near to Euston to protest against the development of HS2 have walked free from court after a judge dismissed charges against them.

Dr Larch Maxey, 49, Daniel Hooper, 48, Scott Breen, 47, Juliett Stevenson-Clarke, 22, Isla Sandford, 18 and Lachlan Sandford, 20, had faced charges of aggravated trespass, following 31 days spent underground in the central London tunnel early this year.

The charges were dismissed by district judge Susan Williams along with a separate charge against Dr Maxey over damage to a mobile phone.

ITN Solicitors, who represented the protesters called the news “incredible.”

Writing on Twitter, the law firm congratulated their solicitors, Simon Natas and Tim James-Matthews for their work.

The tweet quoted Mr Natas as saying: “The protesters always maintained they never committed the offence of aggravated trespass. They have now been vindicated. We are extremely pleased.”

A spokesperson for HS2 said they were “bitterly disappointed” with the outcome.

The six protesters, all part of a group called HS2 Rebellion, secretly dug tunnels underneath Euston Square in north London before living inside them for a month to protest against the building of the railway line, their trial at Highbury Magistrates' Court heard on Tuesday.

On February 19, a High Court injunction ruled the group must stop further tunnelling and tell HS2, the Health and Safety Executive, London Fire Brigade and the police how many people were in the tunnels. The last did not leave for another month on 26 February.

The court heard that the disruption caused by the protest cost HS2’s work at the Euston site around £3.5m, something an HS2 spokesperson called “an enormous waste of public money”.

But Ms Williams dismissed the charges on the basis that HS2 was not carrying out construction work on the site at the time of the occupation, The Guardian reported.

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