Environmental campaigner charged over HS2 tunnel protest denies charges

Larch Maxey is accused of trespassing and disrupting HS2 construction work at Euston Square Gardens by refusing to leave a tunnel under the site.

Larch Maxey
Larch Maxey

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

Larch Maxey, 48, was removed from Euston Square Gardens by bailiffs on Monday after entering the tunnels as part of protests against 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.

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 January 27 and February 22.

HS2 project
Workers clear felled trees next to the anti-HS2 camp at Euston Square Gardens (Victoria Jones/PA)

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

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

Larch Maxey leaves court
Larch Maxey leaves court (Yui Mok/PA)

He is next due to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on July 14 for trial.

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 January 26.

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.

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