London City Airport
Emergency services surround protesters after they locked themselves to a tripod on the runway at London City Airport Daniel Leal-Olivas/ Getty Images

Nine 'Black Lives Matter' UK protesters, who grounded hundreds of flights at London's City Airport, have pleaded guilty to trespass. The group was sentenced to conditional discharges ranging from 18 months to two years, and were ordered to pay £95 costs.

The protesters stormed the airport at 5.30am on 6 September, Westminster Magistrates Court heard. They had breached airport security after crossing the Thames on an inflatable raft, and set up a tripod made of three lengths of bamboo on the runway.

Shouting slogans about climate change, the other members of the group fixed themselves to the tripod and each other with armlocks which contained a metal tube and expandable foam. In tweets they protested against the disproportionate effects of climate change on Africa. The City Airport protest delayed the flights of more than 9,000 passengers.

District judge Elizabeth Roscoe, sentencing, said: "I find it rather hard to see the link between the protest movement which started in America and goes by the name Black Lives Matter which as I understand protests against the treatment of the black population by the police in America. I am not sure how that links to City Airport and climate change. I do not underestimate the sincerity of your beliefs."

She said the protest had caused "a lot of disruption to a great many people" and "to put fears and doubts in minds that these areas are easily accessible not just to you but to people with less peaceful intentions is serious."

The group has faced accusations of cultural appropriation, after it emerged that most were white.

Deborah Francis-Grayson, 31, of St Mary's Road, Slough, was given a three-year conditional discharge while Alex Etchart, 26, who lives on a houseboat called the Northern Soul, was given a two-year conditional discharge.

The other defendants were William Pettifer, 27, of Radford Mill Farm, Radford; Esme Waldron, 23, of Walmer Crescent, Brighton; Sama Baka, 27, and Sam Lund-Harket, 32, who live on the Northern Soul; Natalie Fiennes ,25, of Thurleigh Road, Wandsworth; Richard Collet-White, 23, of Spring Road, Kempston; Ben Tippet, 24, of Thurleigh Road, Wandsworth.