Jail term cut for UK Paralympian James Brown in British Airways aircraft glue stunt

James Brown was jailed for 12 months last year over climate change protest

Extinction Rebellion activist James Brown whose 12-month jail term was cut by judges on Friday after he protested against climate change by gluing himself to a British Airways aircraft. PA
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A UK Paralympian jailed for gluing himself to a British Airways plane in a climate change protest has had his prison sentence cut by two-thirds.

James Brown, who has been registered blind since birth, was given a 12-month term last September for climbing on the plane at London’s City Airport, gluing his hand to the aircraft and then wedging his mobile phone in the door to stop it from closing.

Brown, an activist from climate change activist group Extinction Rebellion, live-streamed the protest until he was removed after an hour.

He was jailed for causing a public nuisance but appeal court judges cut his term on Friday to four months after considering if the sentence was “manifestly excessive”. They dismissed his appeal against conviction.

The stunt led to 337 passengers having their flights cancelled and the disruption cost the airline about £40,000 ($54,837).

Brown, of Exeter, Devon, in south-west England, claimed that he had “to do something spectacular” to draw attention to the climate crisis.

But the judge at his trial said that he had “cynically used” his disability and put his “own life at risk” to perform the stunt in October 2019 on the aircraft that had been scheduled to leave for Amsterdam.

At his appeal hearing, his lawyers said he should have been charged with a lesser offence and that putting him in prison had not been justified. They said that he had suffered “unique hardship” in prison because of his disability.

Brown, who is in his late 50s, represented Great Britain in cycling and athletics before going on to represent Ireland in cross-country skiing. He competed at five games, winning two gold medals in 1984 and a bronze for cycling in London 28 years later.

The judges in their ruling said that anyone involved in disruption at airports ran a substantial risk of going to prison.

“The right to peaceful protest should not lead to tolerance of behaviour that is far removed from conveying a strongly held conviction but instead seeks to cause chaos and as much harm as possible to members of the public,” they ruled.

The plane protest was part of a wider series of protests in London and cities around the world by Extinction Rebellion.

Updated: January 14, 2022, 2:44 PM