St Leonards woman charged over search for secret Link Road documents

June 19, 2013 by combehavendefenders

Emily Johns (centre in green scarf) attempting to enter the Department for Transport

Emily Johns (centre in green scarf) attempting to enter the Department for Transport

Press Information Note
Combe Haven Defenders [1]
19 June 2013


A St Leonards woman arrested during a peaceful attempt to search the Department for Transport for its then-secret recommendations about funding for the controversial £100m Bexhill-Hastings Link Road (BHLR) has been charged with “aggravated trespass”.

Emily Johns, an artist from St Leonards, was arrested on 8 April after repeatedly trying to enter the DfT to search for the documents [2]. Her actions were part of “Operation Disclosure”, a two-day initiative to search for, copy and distribute the recommendations, which were being withheld from the public [3]. She was charged on Monday (17 June).

The recommendations, which were finally released on 29 April, revealed that “possible, alternative road-based solutions ha[d] not been fully worked through and tested” at the time of the decision to fund the project (in March 2012) [4], and that the DfT had assessed the BHLR as being of “low or medium value for money” – and was therefore not a project that the Department would normally consider funding [5].

Ms Johns said, “Far from obstructing the work of the Department for Transport, I took action in support of Transport Department civil servants, whose conclusions – that East Sussex County Council had “significantly overstate[d] the benefits” of the Link Road, “double-counting productivity improvements” and dramatically overstating the number of jobs that will be created if the Road is built [6] – should have dealt a death-blow to the project long ago.”

A “National Rally Against Road Building”, backed by Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB, will be taking place at the Crowhurst Recreation Ground from 2- 5pm on Saturday 13 July [7].

[4] (Para 28)
[5] (Para 5)
[6] See para. 6 of

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