HS2 protesters who occupied the tunnel near Euston station face a retrial | UK news | Daily News Byte

HS2 protesters who occupied the tunnel near Euston station face a retrial |  UK news

 | Daily News Byte

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Six environmental activists who occupied a tunnel near Euston station last year to protest the HS2 rail project face a retrial after being acquitted in the High Court.

Charges against protesters in connection with the occupation in London were dismissed by a judge in October last year.

Daniel Hooper (also known as Swampy), Dr. Larch Maxey, Isla Sandford, Lachlan Sandford, Juliet Stephenson-Clarke and Scott Breen faced aggravated trespassing charges at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court in central London for their 31 days in January and February last year. .

Protesters secretly dug a 100ft (30-metre) tunnel network over a period of months and stored enough food and water supplies to last the entire underground protest. During the occupation they spent most of their time digging and shoring the structures they built.

In October 2021, District Judge Williams dismissed the charges in relation to the protests on the basis that no construction work was taking place on the HS2 site at the time the charges were brought against the protesters.

However, the Director of Public Prosecutions challenged his verdict. The case went to the High Court and on Friday judges found in favor of the DPP and ordered a retrial at Highbury Magistrates’ Court before a new judge.

In their ruling, the judges found that the term “HS2 construction” included clearing the site in preparation for the start of construction works, including evicting protesters, and Williams’ ruling was “illogical”.

The judgment states: “We believe that there is a strong public interest in the trial proceeding on its proper course.”

The underground environmental protest lasted 31 days, the longest in UK protest history, although still short of the record 40-day tunnel protest in Essex in 2000.

Hooper said he was disappointed with the verdict. “It seems that the Magistrate’s Court verdict that acquitted us was overturned because the Director of Public Prosecutions did not like it. Taking this case to the High Court is wasting more public money, just like the HS2 project.”

The court heard that disruption to HS2’s work at the Euston site cost around £3.5m.

HS2 Limited declined to comment.

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