It was always going to end this way and today it did. Five of the young men involved in the farcical and futile anti HS2 tunnel protest in Staffordshire that ended in June have been sentenced at Birmingham Crown court over the past two days. A copy of the High Court directions order can be found here.
Two other people (Rory Hooper and Leanne Swateridge) gave undertakings under which they are now prohibited from trespassing on any HS2 land and interfering with the project in any way. These undertaking are valid for 2 years.
Yesterday one protester was jailed for a total of 331 days. I haven’t seen this person’s identity confirmed as yet but there’s only one name missing out of the seven defendants listed on the Directions order…
Two others received prison terms of 184 days and 156 days, suspended for two years, plus fines and court costs. These are William Harewood (aka ‘Satchel’) who also received a £3000 fine and Liam Walters who received a £2000 fine.
A fourth, David Buchan (aka David Holiday) who wasn’t in the tunnels but who was present on injuncted land was sentenced to 100 days in prison, plus a £1500 fine and court costs. He’d refused to turn up to court, with the inevitable consequences.
Today, the final protester and repeat offender, Elliott Cuciurean will be sentenced. I’ll update this blog when I have confirmation of his sentence.
Apart from wasting time, money and their own lives these people have achieved the sum total of zero. The Hs2 ‘Rebellion’ collapsed some time ago without stopping HS2 in the slightest. They may be seen as ‘martyrs’ by some but the truth is most people won’t even notice. The court cases have attracted minimal publicity, just like the 47 days they wasted holed-up in a pointless tunnel. The world’s moved on and so has HS2, which has reached several construction milestones (and will see several more) whilst these people languish in prison. It’s been very telling that the moribund anti HS2 Facebook and other social media pages are mostly ignoring the court case. It seems clear that hardly anyone’s turned up to protest outside, which is another obvious sign of just how their campaign’s collapsed.
Now there’s no more active camps left, just an ineffective handful of people who’ve been allowed to camp on a farmer’s land near Jones’ Hill wood (the one the protesters lied about having a connection with Roald Dahl) which is futile as all the tree-clearance work was completed long ago and now construction of the HS2 trace is well underway.
It’s noticeable that the Facebook pages of some of the protesters have suddenly vanished. Hardly surprising as they helped provide evidence of their contempt of court! ‘Drew Robson’ (Andrew McMaster) who was one of the most prominent and gobby of the protesters has taken his down.
Not that it matters as the hopeless protest movement really is all over now. These cases are hardly going to encourage other people to be as foolish as the likes of Harewood and Cuciurean. The money’s dried up, the volunteers have dried up – and so has the media interest. So much so that another High Court case in London on the 28th March slipped under the radar. HS2 ‘rebellion’ kept quiet about it too – for obvious reasons – as it shows how many of their high-profile protesters have been neutered.
This case involved some of the protesters from another futile tunnel protest, this time the one at Euston. It involved decades long failure to stop anything, Larch Maxey – along with Daniel Hooper (aka ‘Swampy’), Isla Sandford, Juliet Stevenson-Clark and Bethany Cooke, who all ate humble pie, as the wording of the judgement explains. It also makes clear that if it wasn’t for HS2 Ltd agreeing to their grovelling, they would have been jailed.
“The Defendants apologised to the court for their actions and undertook not to trespass on land which is being used for the HS2 project, to obstruct or interfere with the Claimant’s operations or to train others to do so. This outcome was acceptable to the Claimant and, in the light of this and for the reasons explained in the judgment of Linden J, the court was persuaded, albeit reluctantly, that it should make the order applied for.”
Both these court cases (along with others) show how the small band of people who made up the hardcore of the anti HS2 protests are now out of the game. The pool of activists was always more of a puddle. Now that puddle’s dried up.
Now the focus swings to the huge amount of progress being made on building HS2….
UPDATE (29th July).
Elliott’s case was adjourned until September with no date fixed for the case to be heard, so the saga drags on until then.
I’ve a small favour to ask…
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