Climate protester jailed after supergluing himself to plane begins appeal

Extinction Rebellion activist James Brown, 57, from Exeter, Devon, was jailed by a judge at Southwark Crown Court in September.

Brian Farmer
Wednesday 08 December 2021 13:08
James Brown, on top of a plane on the morning of October 10 2019 during a protest against flying at London City Airport (PA)
James Brown, on top of a plane on the morning of October 10 2019 during a protest against flying at London City Airport (PA)

A former Paralympic athlete given a 12-month jail sentence after supergluing himself to the roof of a British Airways plane at London City Airport in a bid to draw attention to the climate crisis has begun an appeal.

Extinction Rebellion activist James Brown 57, from Exeter Devon was jailed by a judge at Southwark Crown Court in September after being convicted of causing a public nuisance at an earlier trial.

Lawyers representing Brown on Wednesday challenged his conviction and sentence at a Court of Appeal hearing in London.

They said there had been “no reason” to charge Brown with causing a public nuisance, questioned the “proportionality” of the decision to bring the charge, and said he could have been charged with aggravated trespass.

Three appeal judges, Lord Burnett – the Lord Chief Justice – Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Goss, are considering the case.

The appeal hearing is due last a day.

Judge Gregory Perrins had jailed Brown, who has been registered blind since birth.

He said, when passing sentence, that Brown had “cynically used” his disability and put his “own life at risk” to carry out the stunt at London City Airport on October 10 2019.

The double gold medallist, from Exeter, climbed on to the plane, which was destined for Amsterdam, before gluing his right hand to the aircraft and wedging his mobile phone in the door to prevent it from closing.

Northern Ireland-born Brown, who represented Great Britain in cycling and athletics before going on to represent Ireland in cross-country skiing, livestreamed the protest until he was removed after an hour.

Southwark Crown Court heard a total of 337 passengers had their flights cancelled, missing birthday celebrations, important business meetings and family events, with the disruption costing the airline around £40,000.

Brown, who represented himself at his trial, denied one count of causing a public nuisance, claiming he had “to do something spectacular” to draw attention to the climate crisis.

But he was found guilty, in July, after a jury deliberated for less than an hour.

Judge Gregory Perrins had told Brown: “It is important that those who are tempted to seriously disrupt the lives of ordinary members of the public in the way that you did and then seek to justify it in the name of protest understand that they will face serious consequences.

“There is a clear dividing line between legitimate protest and deliberate offending, and you knowingly crossed it.”

Lawyers representing Brown also told appeal judges that custody was not justified on the facts of the case.

They said the 12-month term was “manifestly disproportionate” and said he was suffering “unique hardship” in prison because of his disability.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in