One Acquitted and Two Convicted as APPH3 Appear in Chester Crown Court

Mar 13, 2023

​​​​​​​Last week, three activists appeared in Chester Crown Court, having been charged with criminal damage after shutting down the factory of APPH in Runcorn in June 2021 [1]. APPH, owned by Canadian firm Héroux Devtech, is a supplier of drone parts to Elbit Systems, selling drone landing gear to Israel’s largest weapons company. On Wednesday, one of the activists was acquitted, while the two others plead guilty. The two will appear for sentencing in Chester Crown Court on Friday the 5th May, facing possible time in prison. One of them is currently on remand in HMP Wandsworth, having a number of cases open for environmental activism.

The three activists occupied the APPH site in June 2021, scaling the building and dismantling premises as part of a direct action strategy seeking to immobilise Elbit’s British weapons manufacturing, including by taking on their suppliers, partners, and collaborators. Initially charged with £4m worth of damage, this figure was revised down to £198,000 by the time of the trial, and may be revised further still.

APPH are a supplier of drone landing gear to Elbit Systems, through the latter’s Leicester-based subsidiary UAV Tactical Systems. UAV Tactical Systems hold multiple drone export licenses to Israel, and whose flagship drone (the Watchkeeper) is based on the ‘combat-proven’ Hermes, infamous for patrolling the skies of Gaza. Elbit have repackaged this as the Watchkeeper for export to Europe and the British military [3]. APPH furthermore produce the landing gear for BAE Systems’ Hawk jet [4], used by Saudi Arabia in their assaults on Yemen, and a number of other fighter jets and military helicopters.

The activists appeared in Chester Crown Court across three days, from Monday 6th March to Wednesday 8th March, and were denied by presiding Judge Leeming their rights to protest and justification defences, while permitting a ‘reasonable belief in consent’ defence. Leeming refused to permit expert testimony, and ruled out most defences by stating that action against APPH was too far removed from Palestine; the facilitators of Elbit’s criminality once again protected by the British state.

On Monday the 6th March, outside the court, a long time supporter of Palestinian liberation had a cardiac arrest. Chris Bryne passed away that day, having appeared at the court with a Palestine banner in support of activists standing against Israel’s weapons manufacturing. Palestine Action send their respect to him, and offer our condolences to his family [5].

Support has been called for the 5th May at Chester Crown Court.

[3] Drones%2C War on Want.pdf