From Angie Zelter to Susan Mair, District Court
Ref:- HELENSBURGH DISTRICT COURT – 22nd SEPTEMBER 1998.
ADJUSTED DRAFT STATED CASE. Thank-you for your letter of 13/10/98 which stated that I must propose any adjustments I wish to make within three weeks. I therefore enclose the adjustments well within this time limit. I have re-written the Draft Stated Case with the adjustments that I wish to make. I have not removed many of the statements of Anthony Stirling J.P. mostly I have tried to just add my own. In order to clearly mark the additions I have made, I have put them on separate lines and have an asterix before and after. Any typing/spelling errors and obvious mistakes like ’defendant’ instead of ’appellant’ I have put in bold type. I am hopeful that these will prove acceptable to the Court and that the Appeal can proceed. I have enclosed them printed out as a hard copy with this letter but have also emailed them to you to help speed up the process. If there is any dispute with the adjustments that I have made, I have been advised that we may have to have a hearing within a week to discuss the matter in Court before the Appeal goes up to the High Court. If this is so then please let me know straight away. Thanking you, Angie Zelter.
IN THE ARGYLL AND BUTE DISTRICT COURT AT HELENSBURGH CASE For the opinion of the High Court of Justiciary at Edinburgh stated by Anthony Stirling, Justice of the Peace in ANGELA CHRISTINA ZELTER, VALLEY FARMHOUSE, EAST RUNTON, CROMER, NORFOLK APPELLANT against CHRISTOPHER DONNELLY, PROCURATOR FISCAL, DUMBARTON RESPONDENT The Appellant was charged with:- 1. Contravention of Section 52 (1) of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 in that on 13 August 1998 in HMNB Clyde she did while acting with others without reasonable excuse wilfully or recklessly destroy or damage the property belonging to another viz the perimeter fence by cutting said fence. 2. Contravention of Section 52 (1) of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 in that on 20 August 1998 in HMNB Clyde she did without reasonable excuse wilfully or recklessly destroy or damage the property belonging to another viz the perimeter fence by cutting said fence while on bail. 3. Contravention of Byelaw 2 of the Faslane, Coulport and Rhu Byelaws 1986 and Section 14 of the Military Lands Act 1892 in that on 20 August 1998 at HMNB Clyde she did enter by land the protected area at Faslane other than by way of an authorised entry namely through a hole in the perimeter fence while on bail. The case first called in Court at Helensburgh on 21 August 1998 when the Appellant plead not guilty and a trial diet was fixed for 22 September 1998. Bail was refused and the Appellant was remanded in custody until trial. On 22 September 1998 the Appellant maintained her plea of not guilty and the case proceeded to trial before me on that date. I found the Appellant guilty of all 3 charges libelled. I admonished and dismissed the Appellant. I found the following facts proved or admitted:- (i) On 13 August 1998 at HMNB Clyde Angela Zelter cut the perimeter fence. (ii) On 20 August 1998 in HMNB Clyde Angela Zelter cut the razor wire which formed part of the perimeter fence while on bail. (iii) On 20 August 1998 at HMNB Clyde Angela Zelter entered the protected area other than by way of an authorised entry while on bail. *** (iv) On 13 and 20 August 1998 Angela Zelter behaved in a courteous, peaceful, accountable and non-violent manner. (v) On 13 and 20 August 1998 Angela Zelter genuinely believed that she and all other life on the planet were in imminent danger of death or great harm from the 100 kt nuclear warheads deployed on British Trident submarines. (vi) On 13 and 20 August 1998 Angela Zelter genuinely believed that the British nuclear weapons at Faslane were illegal in international law. (vii) Before 13 August 1998 Angela Zelter had tried all other reasonable legal alternatives. (viii) On 13 and 20 August 1998 Angela Zelter was arrested before completing her intended act of ’disarmament’. Angela Zelter genuinely believed that her act of ’disarmament’ was capable of preventing crime. (ix) On 13 and 20 August Angela Zelter genuinely believed that she had reasonable cause to cut the perimeter fence at Faslane *** The evidence provided by the Crown witnesses was as follows:- Constable John Keenan Constable Keenan confirmed that while on duty at HMNB Clyde on 13 August 1998 he had seen the Appellant cut the perimeter fence with bolt cutters. He had been standing 5 to 6 feet away at the time and he confirmed that the Appellant was cutting through the fence when arrested. The bolt cutters *** , decorated with the words peace and love, *** taken off the Appellant were presented to him as Crown Production Number 1 and he confirmed that they were the bolt cutters used by the Appellant. In cross examination Constable Keenan confirmed that 2 other people were with the Appellant when she was arrested and that he knew about the Trident Ploughshares 2000 Campaign. *** He also confirmed that he was aware of the Tri-Denting It Handbook. *** Sergeant John O’Rourke Sergeant O’Rourke confirmed that while on duty at HMNB Clyde on 13 August 1998 with Constable Keenan he saw the Appellant cut the perimeter fence. At the time he was about 4 or 5 feet away from the Appellant. Sergeant O’Rourke confirmed that Crown Production Number 1 was the bolt cutters taken from the Appellant which she had used to cut the fence. In cross examination Sergeant O’Rourke confirmed that he had not received a leaflet or had instruction regarding International Law. Detective Sergeant Peter Cassidy Detective Sergeant Cassidy confirmed that he was on duty at HMNB Clyde on 13 August when the Appellant was cautioned and charged with mailicious mischief. When cautioned, he advised that the Appellant presented a prepared written statement which he confirmed as being Crown Production Number 2. In cross examination Detective Sergeant Cassidy confirmed that he was aware of the Trident Ploughshares 2000 Campaign *** , their Tridenting It Handbook and that they advocated safe, nonviolent, open and accountable methods. He was also aware of the Campaign’s internet site. He had been briefed that the campaign was totally nonviolent. He was cross questioned on whether the normal running of the base is disrupted when the ’intruder’ or ’bandit’ alarm goes off but was not allowed to answer these questions. *** Police Constable Eleanor Flynn Constable Flynn confirmed that while on duty on 20 August 1998 and patrolling the outer perimeter fence of HMNB Clyde accompanied by a Sergeant Allison she had seen what she considered to be a film crew videoing persons within the perimter fence. The persons within the perimeter fence were cutting the razor wire near to the perimeter fence and she entered through the hole in the perimeter fence which had been made and confirmed that the Appellant along with 2 others was cutting the razor wire inside the perimeter fence. She advised the Appellant to stop and removed the bolt cutters from her. The Appellant was placed under arrest by Constable John Brennan who had accompanied her through the perimeter fence. *** In cross examination Constable Flynn agreed that the Trident Ploughshares 2000 Campaign was nonviolent and open and that the police operation was called Operation Foundation. *** Police Constable Andrew McAulay Constable McAulay confirmed that while on duty on 20 August 1998 he received information that persons had been seen on video camera inside the perimeter fence of HMNB Clyde. He attended the locus and identified the Appellant and 2 others as the persons within the perimeter fence. A 2 by 3 foot hole had been made at the site. *** In cross-examination it was admitted that when the ’bandit’ alarm went off the gate was closed. Cross-questioning as to whether or not the day to day running of the base was disrupted when this happened was disallowed.*** Police Constable John Brennan Constable John Brennan confirmed that while on duty at HMNB Clyde on 20 August 1998 he noticed a number of people inside and outside the perimeter fence. He went to where the people were and saw a hole in the fence approximately 4 foot by 2 foot and there saw the Appellant and her 2 co-accused cutting the razor wire inside the perimeter fence. He confirmed that Crown Production Number 3 was the bolt cutters *** , decorated with the words peace, love and disarmament, *** taken from the Appellant and that she had been arrested at that time. *** In cross examination Constable Brennan admitted that he had reasonable knowledge of the procedures inside the base, including what happens when intruders are found but he was not allowed to answer questions about this even though it was explained to the court that disrupting the normal operations of the base was part of the objectives of the campaign as the campaign considered the base as being involved in criminal activities which they were trying to stop. Detailed questioning on the Nuremberg Principles were also stopped on the grounds that a junior officer could not understand the complexities of such international law, even though it was argued that these Nuremburg Principles were quite simple to understand in essence and were designed precisely for such officers. ***
Sergeant Eleanor May. Sergeant May confirmed that while on duty at the Prisoners Processing Centre on 20 August 1998 she charged the Appellant. Sergeant May identified Crown Production Number 4 as a hacksaw blade found in the possession of the Appellant who in reply to the caution and charge had handed over a written statement which Sergeant May confirmed as being Crown Production Number 5. That concluded the evidence for the prosecution. The Appellant gave evidence on her own behalf. ** She did not dispute the fact that she had cut holes in the fence and entered inside the perimeter fence of HMNB Clyde. She said she had done these things peacefully, nonviolently, accountably, reasonably, and giving plenty of warning to the authorities that she would be doing them because, in her opinion and belief, major international crimes were being committed inside HMNB Clyde and she had a right and a duty to stop them and to protect herself and others from imminent harm. She read the statement she had prepared for the police (Crown Production Number 2 and 5 which were the same apart from the dates) which explained her intention to go through the fence to the submarine to disarm it by some form of safe damage. She explained she had been caught en-route to the submarine and had not been able to complete her disarmament action. *** She submitted a number of Productions which are attached as follows:- 1. Press advert inviting the public to uphold international law *** which she had placed in her local East Anglian newspaper ten years before and which, she submitted, showed evidence of her long-held belief that British nuclear weapons were unlawful and criminal.*** 2. Handbook of Nuclear Weapons Accidents *** which included one in East Anglia that a US Officer had admitted might have turned the whole of East Anglia (her home) into a radioactive desert. She also gave more recent information on accidents and submitted that the global community, herself included, were already suffering the effects of nuclear contamination from the mining, testing, deployment, accidents, loss and routine nuclear emmissions made by nuclear arsenals. She said she had been deeply affected by the personal stories of the Pacific Islander women who had been so badly contaminated that they produced ’jelly fish’ babies now. She also stated her belief that although a nuclear war had not been started by accident yet, despite some extrememely narrow shaves, she had to take a prudential approach to danger, she could not wait until she was actually killed but had to take steps to prevent her death immediately. *** 3. Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice *** upon which she based her international law defence and also her defence of reasonable excuse. The Appellant contended that this Advisory Opinion is controlling because it is the authoritative articulation of customary international law on the legality of the use or threatened use of nuclear weapons. The Appellant further contended that customary international law is binding on all States and is incorporated automatically into Scots law, see Trendtex Trading Corporation v Central Bank of Nigeria  QB 529 (Court of Appeal, England) and Mortensen v Peters  8 F.(J) 93. The Appellant noted that the Respondent led no evidence or argument to suggest that the International Court of Justice had erred in expounding customary international law in this opinion. *** 4. Tri-denting It Handbook *** that the Appellant had written herself in December 1997 and which clearly showed her personal state of mind, philosophy and beliefs and the non-violent, safe, accountable and lawful basis of the whole Trident Ploughshares 2000 Campaign. The Appellant drew to the attention of the court, the non-negotiable ground rules for the campaign which ensure respect and care for the opponent – with an absolute refusal to harm, damage or degrade people. The Appellant showed that within the Handbook it is also made absolutely clear that no Trident Ploughshares disarmer should interfere in any way with the nuclear reactor or nuclear warheads and that all disarmament work should be completely safe for everyone – themselves included.*** 5. Statutory Declaration by Keith Miller Forrester-Paton *** which provided corroborating evidence of the Appellant’s long record of belief in the illegality of nuclear weapons under international law and the very many ways in which she had tried to persuade the Government and other authorities to disarm their nuclear weapons and uphold international law. This included a series of information layings at various local courts in England which were not allowed to proceed through the courts. She presented this evidence to show that she had tried all reasonable alternatives before turning to direct personal disarmament and that in her eyes there was no other remedy.*** 6. Collection of letters written to organisations *** , politicians, Prime Ministers and members of the Judiciary *** persuading them to disarm nuclear weapons. *** These were submitted to show how the Appellant had tried to persuade the various authorities with responsibility for the British nuclear Trident system to disarm Trident themselves. She also emphasised that her letter to the Lord Advocate and Attorney General (well before her attempted disarmament actions at Faslane with which she was charged on 13 and 20 August 1998) had stated her honest belief as to the illegality and criminality of Trident and the legality of her trying to disarm it and suggested that either she be charged with conspiracy to commit illegal acts or that the Government be charged with grave breaches of international humanitarian law. The Appellant received no reply.*** 7. Testimonies from people who have suffered the effects of nuclear weapons. The Appellant stated that the UK Government policy on nuclear weapons is unlawful and that British nuclear weapons are contrary to *** international*** humanitarian law. She stated that her intention was to *** cause ’as much physical damage to the submarine as possible’, ’with the proviso that this is done in a safe, accountable, careful, considered, open and accountable manner’ *** and as such she was acting in her own self-defence and to prevent crime. That concluded the evidence for the Appellant. In summing up for the prosecution Mr. Donnelly stated that the Court was subject to the Law of Scotland. Every citizen has a duty to obey the law and that the Appellant was clearly guilty of all 3 charges. In summing up for the defence the Appellant read from a prepared statement, a copy of which is attached hereto as appendix 1. *** It contains legal argument on common law defences of necessity and self-defence; the statutory defence of ’reasonable excuse’ and a defence based upon international law. *** I then considered my verdict and found the Appellant guilty of all 3 charges as libelled. I admonished and dismissed the Appellant as she had been in custody from 21 August 1998 until the trial diet on 22 September 1998. The reasoning for my decision is as follows:- 1. There was clearly sufficient evidence provided by the Crown witnesses to confirm that the Appellant had committed the offences with which she was charged. 2. The defences which were put forward by the Appellant for her actions and which form the basis for this Appeal were as follows:- (i) Necessity and Self Defence The primary thrust of this defence is that *** British Trident *** nuclear weapons are dangerous and ***an immediate threat*** and the Appellant and others having failed to persuade successive governments to abandon a nuclear weapons policy by *** other *** means have ***no other choice before them than to disarm the British nuclear weapon system themselves.*** While I accept that nuclear weapons are inherently dangerous and accidents have happened, and the risk of future accidents will always be present I can see no immediate connection between the offences that the Appellant committed and necessity and self-defence. Indeed I view with the greatest apprehension the prospect of the Appellant or any of her asociates in the Ploughshares movement loose in the control room of a Trident submarine with bolt cutters attempting to ’disarm’ it. I accordingly reject this defence as in my opinion the actions of the Appellant are so remote from any meaningful definition of self defence and necessity and if carried to the conclusion desired by her must be harmful to her and a large number of other people. (ii) Reasonable Excuse I do not consider that the evidence led by the Appellant was sufficient in law to demonstrate that she did in fact have an excuse for her actions. The question to be answered here is: Is the possession of *** British nuclear warheads of 100 kilotons *** and the threat to retaliate with them in the event of an attack on this country a crime against humanity and contrary to international law? It is rare to encounter such weighty issues in the District Court even in Argyll and Bute and it is with considerable relief that I ask Your Lordships to rule on my view that until the Interntional Court of Justice finds otherwise that the British Government is pursuing a defence policy which is right and proper, that there is no taint of criminality in it and that no person has the right to invade the Crown Defence Establishments or damage the property therein and that there is no reasonable excuse for so doing. (iii) International Law The Advisory Opinion which the Appellant referred to is attached hereto as Appellant’s Production Number 3. The United Nations General Assembly had asked the International Court of Justice for an Advisory Opinion on the legal position of nuclear weapons and this is it. I believe despite arguments to the contrary that this remains its status – advisory. Until our country is brought before the ICJ and convicted this opinion is not part of international law or in any way incorporated into Scottish Law. I have considered the case before me in terms of Scots Law and it is clear to me that the Appellant was guilty of the offences as libelled. The questions of law submitted to the Court are:- 1. Was I entitled to hold that the possession of current British nuclear weapons, the present Government nuclear defence policy and the current intent to use them if necessary, is not contrary to customary international law? 2. If so, were there grounds in the circumstances of the case, and from the evidence given, for the Appellant genuinely to believe that such a threat is contrary to international law? 3. Was I entitled to find the Appellant guilty notwithstanding her honest belief that her actions were necessary to save the destruction of person and property that she believes follows from the possession and threat to use such weapons? 4. Is the possession of nuclear warheads of 100 kt and the threat to use them contrary to customary international law and if so does this amount to a ’reasonable excuse’ for the otherwise unlawful acts of which the Appellant has been convicted? 5. On the facts stated was I entitled to reject the Appellant’s defence of reasonable excuse? 6. Am I entitled to state my opinion that the Appellant’s actions ’if carried to the conclusion desired by her must be harmful to her and a large number of other people’ even though this is in direct contradiction to the evidence put forward by the Appellant that all her actions were and will be carried out in a careful, safe, non-violent and responsible manner and that no Crown witnesses gave evidence to the contrary? 7. On the facts stated was I entitled to find the Appellant guilty of the offences charged notwithstanding the defences she put forward? This case is stated by me,
Anthony Stirling, Justice of the Peace.