Paralympian and three others arrested over Heathrow Airport drone disruption

The arrests were made against protesters trying to disrupt Heathrow Airport
The arrests were made against protesters trying to disrupt Heathrow Airport
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Four people including Paralympian James Brown have been arrested after climate change activists planned on disrupting Heathrow Airport using drones.

The men were arrested in the early hours of this morning on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance within the perimeter of Heathrow Airport, the Metropolitan Police said.

Environmental protest group Heathrow Pause, a splinter group of the Extinction Rebellion movement but separate from it, said it intended to fly the devices in the 5km zone around the transport hub.

The arrests, within a 3.1 mile exclusion zone around the airport, followed five pre-emptive arrests on Thursday when officers caught suspected would-be pilots, including Extinction Rebellion co-founder, Roger Hallam, ahead of the planned action.

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Scotland Yard said a dispersal order had been put in place at Heathrow until 4:30am on Sunday "to prevent criminal activity which poses a significant safety and security risk to the airport", and a large police presence was seen in the airport area on Friday morning.

In the early hours of this morning, a live stream was shared on a Heathrow Pause Twitter account, showing two people struggling to get a drone off the ground.

The device could be seen flashing red and green lights as the men held it above their head, but did not make it into the air.

The two men, who were seen filming themselves near a road and were experiencing "a technical glitch", were arrested.

Another man who was filming the activists and Paralympian James Brown were later arrested near Terminal 2 as well.

Reacting to the arrests, the group said: "The real objective was always to trigger a sensible, honest conversation, throughout society, on the dangerous folly of Heathrow expansion, with the ultimate objective of cancelling the third runway.

"That conversation is now happening. It is incumbent on all of us to keep it going."

Meanwhile, planes landed at Heathrow as normal, with the first flights touching down just before 5am.

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Heathrow Airport confirmed its runways are open and said it was committed to addressing climate change.

It said in a statement: "We will continue to work with the authorities to carry out dynamic risk assessment programmes and keep our passengers flying safely on their journeys today.

"We agree with the need for climate change action but illegal protest activity designed with the intention of disrupting thousands of people, is not the answer.

"The answer to climate change is in constructive engagement and working together to address the issue, something that Heathrow remains strongly committed to do."

Earlier this week, a senior Metropolitan officer said advised Heathrow passengers to travel as normal and said they were "confident" disruption would be kept to a minimum.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: "We will be arresting anybody who commits unlawful offences.

"We are really clear that it is unlawful, it is a criminal offence, and anybody who turns up expecting to fly drones in that exclusion zone will be arrested."

Friday morning's plans were the latest in a string of climate change protests this year, including the widespread action in London in April, which saw Extinction Rebellion bring sites including Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge to a standstill.