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Anti-HS2 activist who spent a month underground in London tunnels denies trespass

Written by on 24 February 2021

An anti-HS2 activist who spent almost a month underground in a network of tunnels has denied aggravated trespass.

Larch Maxey, 48, was removed from Euston Square Gardens in London by bailiffs on Monday after entering the tunnels as part of protests against the building of the high-speed railway line.

The geography lecturer appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday charged with criminal damage and two counts of obstructing or disrupting a person engaged in lawful activity.

HS2 Rebellion protesters in a tree, part of an encampment in Euston Square Gardens in central London, where the protesters have built a 100ft tunnel network, which they are ready to occupy, after claiming the garden is at risk from the HS2 line development. Picture date: Wednesday January 27, 2021. Image: The project has been met with anger from environmentalists

Maxey, of Denham Country Park, in Denham, Buckinghamshire, denied all three charges.

The activist, from the group HS2 Rebellion, is accused of trespassing and disrupting HS2 construction work at Euston Square Gardens by refusing to leave a tunnel under the site between 27 January and 22 February.

He is also alleged to have damaged a mobile phone belonging to Vision Limited at the site between 17 and 19 February.

Maxey is further accused of trespassing on a separate HS2 site in Hampstead Road and disrupting work by climbing a tree and refusing to come down between 6 and 11 October last year.

Maxey was granted bail on the condition he does not enter any HS2 construction site and does not interfere with the workings of any HS2 construction site.

He was also given a curfew to remain at an address in south London between 11pm and 7am.

A crowd of supporters standing outside the court building cheered as he exited shortly after his hearing. He is next due to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on 14 July for trial.

Environmentalist Swampy protests at HS2 high-speed railway construction site in Denham Image: Environmentalist Swampy is part of the protest – and remains underground

The network of tunnels near the London station was created in secret by protesters who object to the redevelopment of Euston Square Gardens as part of the high-speed railway line.

They were discovered on 26 January.

Maxey became the fifth campaigner to leave the tunnels, after a 16-year-old boy left last Wednesday after 22 days underground.

There are believed to be just two remaining protesters in the tunnel – veteran environmental campaigner Dan Hooper, known as Swampy, and 18-year-old Blue Sandford, daughter of Scottish landowner Roc Sandford.

What is HS2?

HS2 will connect London with the West Midlands, Leeds and Manchester, and is the largest infrastructure project in Europe.

The aim is to run 18 trains an hour in each direction to and from London – at speeds of up to 224mph – compared to between two and six an hour on Europe’s high-speed railways.