A group of Extinction Rebellion (XR) protestors who brought City of London Airport to a standstill were given £280 to cover travel costs to court, after their case collapsed because a key police witness is on holiday.
The activists had faced trial for alleged aggravated trespass after gluing themselves to the concourse between London City Airport and the DLR station in October last year.
But all charges were dismissed as it emerged that a police officer who had been due to be a prosecution witness was given insufficient notice about the date of the trial and had booked a holiday.
Deputy District judge, Vincent McDade, said the officer needed to be present to be cross-examined and determine the lawfulness of the protestors arrest, which was being disputed.
Speaking at City of London magistrates court, Mr McDade today said: “There has been an abject failure by the CPS to ensure that this case was properly managed.
“The arresting officer was required by the defence from the outset and had the CPS acted effectively and warned the witness as soon as possible after the case management hearing on 11 November then this matter would proceed today with that witness giving evidence.”
“In these circumstances I have no option but to dismiss all matters against all defendants. It has been the CPS that has taken five weeks and that is just to tell the witness care unit.”
Claudia Fisher, 57, Phoebe Valentine, 23, David Lambert, 60, Senan Clifford, 59, and John Burrage, 42, were all cleared of aggravated trespass for their “sit in” on 10 October.
After the decision, which prompted other XR members to cheer from the public gallery, the judge ordered train travel costs totalling £279.80 to the activists who lived in Brighton, Gloucestershire and Carmarthen, west Wales.
It was claimed by Maryam Mir, the defence's solicitor, that the demonstrators had been unlawfully detained as the officers on duty had not made it clear why they were being held.
She argued that the arrests were unlawful because her clients could not hear what the officers were saying amid loud chants of “power to the people" sung by XR activists inside the concourse.
A CPS spokesman said: “We accept an error was made in not warning the witness sooner which meant the trial could not proceed. We apologise for this error which led to the case being dismissed today at court.”
Around 1,800 protestors were arrested and detained between 14 and 19 October.
However, by November, charges against more than 100 XR protestors were dropped after the ban outlawing protest in London in October was ruled unlawful, though other cases continued.