`

Former Lancaster University student goes on trial facing ‘terrorism’ charges

Laura Clayson, former President of LUSU
Laura Clayson, former President of LUSU

An ex-Lancaster University student has gone on trial facing terrorism charges after helping to block a deportation flight to Nigeria and Ghana.

Laura Clayson, 28, who was President of Lancaster University Student Union (LUSU) up until 2015, is facing a prison sentence after being charged with “endangering an airport” following the incident in March 2017.

Together with 14 other activists, known as the Stansted 15, Ms Clayson, who currently lives in Whitstable, Kent, faces the charges under the 1990 Aviation and Maritime Security Act.

Campaign group End Deportations say that this is the first time the terror-related offence, passed in 1990 in response to the Lockerbie bombing, has been used against people taking non-violent direct action, and if found guilty the defendants could face many years in prison.

The group, who went on trial at Chelmsford Crown Court on October 1, allegedly blocked a chartered plane that was due to deport 60 asylum seekers and other migrants back to Nigeria and Ghana.

Police were called to the scene and the group were arrested.

Represented by a team of lawyers including Dexter Dias QC, the defendants, from campaign groups End Deportations, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSMigrants) and Plane Stupid will all plead not guilty, and the trial is expected to last six weeks.