Paralymic gold medallist James Brown has been convicted for gluing himself to a British Airways plane.
Two-time gold medallist Brown spent an hour attached to the plane, which was meant to fly to Amsterdam, in protest at the climate crisis.
The Extinction Rebellion activist was removed by firefighters before later being arrested, Southwark Crown Court was told.
On the morning of October 10, 2019 at London City airport, Brown climbed on top of the plane and proceeded to glue his right hand to the plane before putting his mobile phone in the door to keep it from closing.
Brown livestreamed his act of protest via Facebook.
Prosecutors told the court that Brown’s protest impacted more than 300 British Airways passengers and cost the airline £40,000.
The 56-year-old is partially sighted and represented Great Britain in cycling and athletics during the 1984 Paralympics. He then switched to Ireland’s team and also changed his sport to compete in cross-country skiing.
Brown had a seat booked on the flight and on the morning of the incident managed to get past security with the superglue unnoticed, a jury was told. A member of the cabin crew asked if he would like assistance, to which he told her of his alternative plans to climb on the roof of the plane.
He said that he had wanted ‘to do something spectacular’ in order to draw attention to the climate crisis.
Brown has chosen to represent himself in court and denied one count of causing a public nuisance. However, after deliberating for less than an hour, a jury found him guilty. Upon receiving the news of the verdict, Brown said he was ‘gutted’.
He said, ‘What I did was only a small part. There are a lot of people giving up a lot to make a difference and I’m only one of them.’
Of the conviction, Brown commented that it was ‘the price you pay for taking a risk’ and that he was always aware that a ‘conviction was a possibility’.
As he wept, he went on to tell the court:
I was prepared to challenge myself, to be scared, to face the fear, because the fear of climate ecological breakdown is so much greater. My protest, the purpose I hope is clear.
My motivation was to maximise media attention to the climate crisis, which back at that time was hardly receiving any.
He is not the only person to have attempted to shut down London City airport. Hundreds of members of Extinction Rebellion have tried to impact the airport’s air travel and plans for site expansion.
Brown is due to be sentenced on September 17.
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