Proceedings have been brought against an environmental lawyer who leaked the Supreme Court’s decision about Heathrow’s third runway a day before judgment was due to be delivered.

The solicitor general has instigated contempt of court proceedings against Tim Crosland, a barrister and director of eco-charity Plan B Earth, following a referral from the Supreme Court. Crosland represented Plan B Earth in Heathrow’s appeal and said he leaked the judgment as an act of ‘civil disobedience’. The draft judgment had been circulated on a confidential basis when Crosland issued a statement to the news wire Press Association disclosing the Supreme Court’s decision.

Contempt of court is punishable by up to two years in prison, and/or a fine.

Solicitor general the Michael Ellis QC MP said: ‘After careful consideration, I have concluded that in order that the rule of law be upheld, contempt of court proceedings should be brought against Tim Crosland. Irrespective of any personal views on any issue there is no excuse for knowingly undermining court processes and proceedings. As proceedings are now underway, it would not be appropriate to comment further.’

Speaking to the Gazette last month, Crosland said he did not regret his decision to break the embargo. ‘You have a short window for journalists to think about the outcome of a court case. It’s only newsworthy for that 24 hours… My assessment was that if I waited for the judgment to be out and then say “this is really dishonest” no one would have paid any attention. It wouldn’t have been noticed,’ he said.

The case has been referred to the Supreme Court.