Climate campaigner acquitted of conspiring to shut down Heathrow Airport

Friday 5 January 2024

Michael Goold of the Garden Court Protest Law Team acted for the client, instructed by Raj Chada of Hodge, Jones & Allen Solicitors.

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Michael Goold represented one of three defendants on trial for conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The offence arose from an action by the climate campaigning group Heathrow Pause in the autumn of 2019.

The defendant admitted being one of a number of individuals planning to fly small drones within a flight restriction zone around Heathrow Airport. The action was a protest against the planned construction of a third runway at Heathrow and the consequent massive increase in carbon emissions. The prosecution’s case was that the defendant and others intended their actions to cause Heathrow Airport to shut down for the duration of the protest, causing unprecedented disruption amounting to a public nuisance.

Michael was required to cross-examine leading experts and executives in the aviation industry regarding the risks from flying drones near airports and operational decision-making at Heathrow. The case also involved complex arguments regarding the law of conspiracy. The complexity of the case was such that it was prosecuted by a KC and junior counsel.

Michael’s client was acquitted after a four-week trial at Isleworth Crown Court.

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