Euston tunnel eco-activists walk free from court after HS2 protest

Euston tunnel mob is spared jail: Swampy and eco-activists walk free from court after month-long HS2 protest that cost developers £3.5m

  • Group of HS2 protesters who dug tunnels near London Euston have walked free 
  • Judge yesterday threw out the charges against Swampy and other eco-activists
  • Group were arrested in February over a month-long underground tunnel protest 
  • HS2 Rebellion demonstration is reported to have cost developers £3.5million 

A group of HS2 protesters who cost developers millions after they dug a series of tunnels close to London’s Euston Station have walked free from court.

A judge yesterday threw out charges against the group, including the veteran eco-activist Swampy, over the month-long underground protest.

The demonstrators, part of a group called HS2 Rebellion, were arrested in February after using the 100-foot tunnel system and several treehouses to play a cat-and-mouse game with authorities over the rail link.

The protest is reported to have cost developers £3.5million – with £2.8million spent on enforcement officers to remove the activists from the site.

The trial against Daniel Hooper, 48 – known as ‘Swampy’ – Dr Larch Maxey, 49, Isla Sandford, 18, Lachlan Sandford, 20, Juliett Stevenson-Clarke, 22 and Scott Breen, 47, started on Tuesday at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court.

A judge yesterday threw out charges against a group of HS2 protesters, including the veteran eco-activist Swampy (right), over the month-long underground protest near London Euston

But district judge Susan Williams yesterday dismissed the charges of aggravated trespass, saying that at the time of the protest HS2 was not engaged in construction work on the site. A separate charge against Dr Maxey of damage to a mobile phone was also dismissed.

After leaving court, Swampy told The Guardian: ‘We shouldn’t have been in court in the first place because HS2 shouldn’t have been happening. 

‘Our plan is to stop HS2. Aggravated trespass charges were completely the wrong ones to level against us.’ 

HS2 contractors were due to start work in Euston Square before the discovery of the secret network of tunnels on January 26 this year. Above: The proposed route

The group initially set up a ‘Tree Protection Camp’ in Euston Square Gardens last September to protest against the multi-billion-pound project.

It has claimed that the construction of the high-speed rail line between London and Crewe will cause extensive environmental damage.

However HS2 has disputed this, saying that only 43 of the UK’s 52,000 ancient woodlands will be affected. 

A spokesman for HS2 said: ‘The actions of these illegal trespassers put their own lives at risk, as well as the lives of our staff.

‘This action was an enormous waste of public money… and we are bitterly disappointed that the court has not found fit to convict these individuals for their dangerous and irresponsible actions.’

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