A barrister is to be referred to the attorney general for contempt of court after he leaked the Supreme Court’s decision about Heathrow’s third runway a day before judgment was delivered.

Tim Crosland, a barrister and director of eco-charity Plan B Earth, said he broke the court’s embargo as ‘an act of civil disobedience’. In a statement published yesterday, he said the leak ‘will be treated as a “contempt of court” and I am ready to face the consequences. I have no choice but to protest the deep immorality of the court’s ruling’.

'I have been a lawyer for 25 years and a legal adviser to government agencies... I have deep respect for the rule of law and the vital role of the judicial system in holding power to account. That is why it is a duty to protest a decision that so gravely betrays that purpose,' he said. 

The Bar Standards Board refused to comment on the case. 

In a judgment handed down this morning, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld Heathrow’s appeal, overturning a February ruling by the Court of Appeal.  

In R (on the application of Friends of the Earth Ltd and others) v Heathrow Airport Ltd, the court rejected the argument that the reasons in the Airports National Policy Statement - a policy framework which governs the construction of the third runway - needed to refer to Paris Agreement targets in order to comply with the Planning Act 2008.

The five justices also dismissed the argument that the secretary of state for transport breached his duty to designate national policy frameworks with the aim of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development.

Heathrow’s appeal concerned the lawfulness of the Airports National Policy Statement, which does not grant development consent in its own right. However, the Supreme Court’s decision will allow Heathrow to press ahead with its expansion plan.

In February, the Court of Appeal blocked the development, ruling that the government had acted unlawfully in failing to take the Paris Agreement into account when approving the runway.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Crosland was the National Crime Agency’s head of cyber, prevention and information law between 2013 and 2015 and previously worked as a barrister in private practice.

BSB records show an unregistered barrister called Timothy John Edward Crosland was called to the bar in November 1994.

3pm update: The Supreme Court said it will refer Crosland to the attorney general and will make a complaint to the BSB. The decision on whether to commence proceedings in response to the leak will be taken by the attorney general and not by the Supreme Court itself. 


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