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Activists Cleared of Charges for Blocking Road to Prevent Deportation Flight to Jamaica

News Americas, LONDON, England, Weds. June 14, 2023: Three activists who laid on a road outside an immigration detention centre to halt a Home Office deportation flight to Jamaica have been acquitted of charges of causing a public nuisance by a jury at Lewes Crown Court. The verdict was celebrated by the defendants, who view it as a victory for the right to non-violent protest during a time when such rights face unprecedented threats.

Rivka Micklethwaite, a trainee midwife, and law graduates Callum Lynch and Griff Ferris were charged with public nuisance after obstructing the road in front of Brook House immigration removal centre near Gatwick airport. The jury’s decision was warmly welcomed by all three activists.

FLASHBACK – Police scuffle with protestors outside Downing Street against the deportations to Jamaica by charter flights. (Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images)

Referred to as the “Brook House three” by their legal representatives, the activists testified during the trial that they were driven by grave concerns about the potential fate of the detainees if they were forcibly put on the Home Office deportation flight to Jamaica. Reports of at least five individuals being killed in Jamaica after removal from the UK were presented in court.

The defendants explained that their intention was to impede the detainees’ forced removal from the UK by lying on the road and attaching themselves to metal tubing. They believed that their protest could grant additional time to detainees who had struggled to access adequate legal representation.

The peaceful demonstration took place on November 9, 2021. Following the incident, all but four individuals scheduled to board the deportation flight to Jamaica were removed from the flight list.

During the trial, Micklethwaite emphasized, “People are traumatised. They are in dire circumstances. Deportations are wrong and deeply unfair.”

In a joint statement following their acquittal, the three defendants stated, “We took action to prevent people from being ripped away from their families, communities and loved ones, and from the places and communities they live in. At the same time that we blocked Brook House detention centre, people inside were also resisting deportation. This prosecution was an aggressive attempt by the state to criminalise our act of solidarity.”

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Zachary Whyte, a solicitor at Sperrin Law who represented Ferris and Lynch, commented, “The ‘Brook House three’ have been acquitted by a jury after their trial. We are proud to have represented two of these inspiring defendants whose actions exemplified the strong tradition of direct action in this country. Their determination in facing months of prosecution was matched by their clear, measured, and passionate testimony at trial, which addressed the injustices of the immigration detention and removal system. This verdict was unquestionably the right decision, both legally and morally.”

Hussain Hassan from Commons solicitors, who represented Micklethwaite, stated, “Throughout the 19 months of this case, the three defendants maintained that their actions were necessary to prevent harm to individuals held at Brook House IRC facing deportation to Jamaica on a charter flight. Today’s jury acquittal of all three is welcomed, although they should have never faced charges of causing a public nuisance for their actions.”