Part 3: Protesting Deportations - From Stansted 15 to Jamaica 50

Event Series - Protest Law: Then & Now

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Zehrah Hasan

Stephanie Harrison KC

Raj Chada

Ben Smoke

Zita Holbourne

Dr Luke de Noronha

The Garden Court Chambers Protest Law Team invites you to a series of webinars entitled 'Protest Law - Then & Now'.

Date: Tuesday 23 February 2021
Time: 5pm - 6:30pm
Venue: Online  
Cost: Free
Areas of Law: Criminal Defence , Civil Liberties and Human Rights , Protest Rights , Protest Rights , Protest Rights

Share This Page

Email This Page

In 2017, the Stansted 15 locked themselves around a charter flight, successfully stopping a mass deportation which would have sent LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers and victims of trafficking to danger. The protesters were initially convicted under counter-terrorism legislation for their actions. Whilst we celebrate their successful appeal in January 2021, where their convictions were quashed, the heavy arm of the criminal law in that case remains a deterrent for those now pursuing direct actions against deportations. Heightened police presence at airports, by-laws that ban protests, and the treatment of demonstrators in the criminal courts stifle the right to protest and prevent unjust immigration decisions from being challenged by the public. 

This is all taking effect within a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants, many of whom are denied access to justice. In turn, we see the parallel hostile treatment of migrants’ rights activists, who continue to be penalised and criminalised by the state. This webinar will explore how lawyers and activists can work together to properly challenge state violence against migrants and how we can exercise our right to protest racist deportations. We will examine practical steps that can be taken to defend protesters in the criminal and civil courts, how to mobilise the public around this issue, and what action can be taken on the ground. We will hear from a range of experts, who have a wealth of experience resisting deportations with their minds and bodies on the line.




Zehrah Hasan, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Chair)
Zehrah became a Garden Court Chambers tenant in October 2020 and practices in public, human rights, immigration and asylum law – with particular specialisms in representing survivors of gender-based violence, exploitation and LGBTQIA+ people. She also works extensively to resist immigration detention and deportations, and is currently instructed as Junior Counsel in Detention Action’s intervention in the landmark legal challenge brought by two children of the Jamaica 50. 

Zehrah has previously worked at a number of non-profit organisations, including Liberty, Southall Black Sisters and the London Black Women’s Project. She is currently the Vice Chair of the Human Rights’ Lawyers Association and External Coordinator for the trade union, Legal Sector Workers United.  Zehrah is also a founding member and Director of Black Protest Legal Support, which works to free provide legal advice and assistance to anti-racist activists, including Black Lives Matter UK.

Stephanie Harrison QC, Joint Head of Garden Court Chambers
Stephanie is a leading public law practitioner who has appeared at all court levels. Her multi-disciplinary practice spans the breadth of public law and civil liberties. Stephanie's cases include those arising from unlawful detention, national security, official misconduct, abuse of power, child sexual exploitation, equality and discrimination, minority rights and civil rights protest and injunctions. Her expertise spans the areas of deprivation and refusals to citizenship and naturalization, fresh and certified claims for asylum, detention and conditions of detention, challenges to deportation and cases involving national security. Stephanie frequently appears in the highest courts in landmark cases.

Stephanie is regularly involved in test case litigation and has been instrumental in winning some of the most important cases within her areas of specialism in recent times. Much of her work is high profile and receives media coverage. She is passionate about upholding and advancing the rights of vulnerable, minority groups. Stephanie was appointed as legal counsel to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in 2015 and is head of the Garden Court Public Law team. Stephanie is ranked for Administrative and Public Law, Civil Liberties & Human Rights and Immigration in both the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. Stephanie was shortlisted for Civil Liberties & Human Rights Silk of the Year at Legal 500 UK Awards 2020.

Raj Chada, Partner & Head of the Criminal Defence Team, Hodge Jones & Allen
Raj is the Head of the Criminal Defence, Financial Crime and Regulatory Department at Hodge Jones & Allen. He is one of the country’s leading criminal lawyers with expertise in serious and complex crime, public order and financial crime. He is recommended in Chambers and Legal 500 describe him as “as a star. He is calm, clever and hard working. He’s deeply committed to his clients – a leader in the field of protester work.” He acted in the “Stansted 15” trial which was labelled by the New Statesman magazine as “the most important political trial of our times”. He skillfully represented all 15 defendants accused of terror related offences successfully.

He is one of a handful of specialist human rights specialists who can take on cases with political dimensions, he is a regular commentator for BBC, Channel 4, Sky News, the Guardian and the Time Newspapers. Raj won the Criminal Lawyer of Year Award at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2012 and has been shortlisted on 3 occasions as “Advocate of the Year” by the Law Society Excellence Awards, being commended in 2017. He was also shortlisted as “Criminal Lawyer of the Year” by the Society of Asian Lawyers in 2017 and 2018.

Ben Smoke, Journalist and Activist (one of the Stansted 15)
Ben Smoke is a journalist and activist from London. Rowdy from a young age, he became involved in activism through the student fees movement. In 2015, he helped found Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants before taking part in a blockade of a deportation charter flight at Stansted airport in March 2017 along with fourteen other people. The action saw the group charged and convicted of terror related offences, before narrowly avoiding prison in February 2019. As a journalist, Ben is contributing editor at Huck Magazine and has written for The Guardian, The Independent, Vice and Dazed. He regularly appears on LBC and other radio and broadcast platforms commentating on current affairs and politics. Ben is writing his first book about the Stansted 15 trial.

Zita Holbourne, National Chair and Co-Founder, BARAC UK
Zita is an award winning, trade union, community & human rights campaigner and activist, sell-out author, visual artist, curator, poet, writer and vocalist. Outside of her creative pursuits Zita has worked in employment law and rights, industrial relations and has been a senior trade activist for 25 years and counting. Zita has curated political and cultural art exhibitions to challenge racism, wider discrimination, injustice and to promote equality, justice, rights and freedom.

Zita is a proud and committed trade union activist and is the Public and Commercial Services Union National Vice President, the joint National Chair of the Artists' Union England and she is elected to the TUC Race Relations Committee, the TUC Women's Committee and the General Federation of Trade Unions National Executive. Her political views and opinions are regularly featured in print and broadcast media and she is a regular writer for news sources including The Voice, The Morning Star and the The Guardian.

She is the Co-Founder and National Chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK, a founding member of Movement Against Xenophobia, BME Lawyers for Grenfell and BAME Lawyers for Justice and has played a leading role in campaigning against the Windrush scandal. Zita won the positive role model for race award at the National Diversity Awards in 2012, was listed as one of the top 10 African & Caribbean Women of the Year in 2013 and was a finalist and one of 5 people's choice poets in the Manorlogz Xtreme Spoken Word Contest in 2013. In 2019 she received a lifetime achievement award for equality champion from the Legacy Awards. In 2020 she was nominated by the BLAC Awards for a special recognition award for her work in community campaigning. She is one of 17 British women campaigners featured in the new book Here We Stand; Women Changing the World, which won the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing in 2015. 

She is the author of the sell out book Striving for Equality, Freedom and Justice, a book that fuses the poetical with the political and charts black history from the Haitian Revolution to the Black Lives Matter Movement. She performs poetry at a wide range of events, from Glastonbury festival to the Houses of Parliament, awards ceremonies to community events and trade union conferences. In 2020 Zita gave the International Slavery Museum, Dorothy Kuya Memorial Lecture for UNESCO Slavery Remembrance Day. Zita campaigns for Equality, Freedom, Justice & Human Rights through arts and activism. 

Dr Luke de Noronha, Academic, UCL
Luke lectures on 'Race, Ethnicity and Postcolonial Studies' at University College London. Across his research, writing and teaching, Luke de Noronha is concerned with the relationship between racism and the government of mobility. His work provides critical interventions into debates surrounding ‘race’ and migration in the British context, and he is particularly interested in connections between the legal production of ‘illegality’ and processes of racialisation, between the law and racist culture. To examine these questions, he has focused on the UK’s deportation practices, and his book Deporting Black Britons: portraits of deportation to Jamaica was published in September 2020 with Manchester University Press. This ethnographic monograph tells the life stories of four men who grew up in the UK, were banished to Jamaica following criminal conviction, and now struggle to survive and rebuild in the Caribbean.

Luke has written for the Guardian, Verso blogs, VICE, Red Pepper, Open Democracy, The New Humanist, and Ceasefire Magazine. He has also produced a podcast with deported people in Jamaica, Deportation Discs, a riff on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, in which deported people tell their stories via their life's soundtrack. Luke is currently working on two co-authored book manuscripts. The first, Empire’s End Game: Racism and the British State is written collaboratively with seven other scholars, and is out with Pluto Press in February 2021. The second, provisionally titled Against Borders: Towards a politics of border abolition is written with Gracie Mae Bradley, and will be published in Spring 2022 with Verso Books. Luke is also on the editorial board for the Sociological Review.

Event Series (Further details to be announced)

Part 1 - From Mangrove to Black Lives Matter Protests
5pm-6:30pm, Tuesday 26 January 2021

Part 2 - From Newbury to Extinction Rebellion
5pm-6:30pm, Tuesday 9 February 2021

Part 3 - From Stansted 15 to Jamaica 50
5pm-6:30pm, Tuesday 23 February 2021

Part 4 - From Then to NOW
5pm-6:30pm, Tuesday 16 March 2021

We are top ranked by independent legal directories and consistently win awards.

+ View more awards