Thirteen Activists, all named as defendants by HS2 Ltd. as they sought to impose an interim injunction, have each signed a declaration refusing to pay costs.
HS2 Ltd. are given the task of building a high-speed railway from London to Manchester. The project has been mired in controversy since the outset. Claims of avoiding democratic scrutiny, of fraud, of misleading Parliament and of crimes and misdemeanours on many levels and many fronts dog the labouring enterprise.
As a result there has been a growing protest against the construction. The protest has always been peaceful but in the light of a lack of democratic scrutiny, has often employed non-violent direct action. It is as a result of this lively protest that the HS2 project now faces much serious questioning in the press and the media. It is a mark of the success of the protest that more and more are joining the movement every day.
Mark Keir, one of the 13, said “We are winning, we have to win, we cannot afford not to. This nightmare is trampling all our rights, trampling our needs, trampling our future. The people have never been asked for their approval, this will cost about a third of our annual national budget”
It is also a mark of success of that protest that HS2 Ltd have employed legions of security, and have had to purchase the help of several police services. It is also a mark of that success that HS2 Ltd have sought to silence the protest by applying for injunctions. These are laws bought by the private corporation hand in hand with the Secretary of State for Transport through the High Court. They are abused and essentially redesigned to threaten and impede protesters human rights articles 10 & 11 and to name anyone they can get a name for, with little to no evidence, at points even spelling the names wrong or using the names they have given on social media.
The first injunction sought was on land adjacent to Harvil Rd, Harefield, Middlesex back in 2018. The injunction was granted in a hearing under The Honourable Justice Barling and with 6 named defendants on the 18th February 2018. Since then there have been a further 3 hearings through 2019 and 2020 in front of David Holland QC and an ever-growing number of named defendants with a final iteration on the 24th, 25th and 26th of August 2020, with 33 named defendants. 14 of those defendants stood in Court, each passionately upholding their right and the need for protest, especially in the face of a previous lack of democratic scrutiny afforded to HS2 through Parliament. Each hearing has asked the Court to impose an ever wider-reaching interim injunction. Judge David Holland QC had no interest in the defendants’ statements, at one point he referred to “10,000 people a day dying of air pollution”, as he described “I’m not interested in your violin stories”. He refused to entertain precedent and allowed the interim to roll over once more, this time for 2 years. As such the injunction has not yet been fully tried. As such evidence from the defendants has been scarcely looked at let alone considered by the Court, as well as the HS2 evidence not being sufficiently deliberated.
The “defendants” called to Court by HS2 have not been accused of a crime. They, of course, would vigorously challenge any idea that they had been anything but lawful upstanding citizens. The defendants have therefore been called to Court to tell the Court why their right to protest must be upheld. But at each hearing the judge has not heard that demand.
HS2 Ltd is destroying the countryside, taking people’s homes and livelihoods away, destroying habitats of protected species, felling trees with nesting birds and bats in alive, polluting 22% of London’s drinking water, costing £150 billion and rising, and forcing workers to continue to work with no PPE during both coronavirus lockdowns, with employees commenting all over the country as HS2 has been deemed “essential”.
Now, in a further twist, David Holland QC has awarded costs to HS2 with the 14 defendants who stood in Court to defend their rights being severally responsible for costs totalling £42,000. Each defendant is therefore being charged £3000.
It is in this light that we, the Harvil 13 named below have written and signed the Declaration of Non-Payment.
Mark Keir, Hayley Pitwell, Sam Goggin, Elliott Cuciurean, Ella Dorton, Scott Breen, Karl Collins, Samantha Smithson, Sebastian Roblyn Maxey, Wicktoria Zieniuk, Iain Oliver, Dr Larch Maxey and Vajda Robert Mordechaj.