TP Defences in Court
Defence of Angie Zelter at Derby on 5th September 2006
Name, address, age, peace and environmental campaigner. Founder Member of TP a campaign to disarm the British nuclear weapons system by peaceful and nonviolent means.
I am charged with obstructing a highway without lawful authority or excuse and my defence is that I had both lawful authority and excuse to obstruct the highway. What I did was reasonable in the circumstances.
As I will be relying on this defence I would like to bring in evidence of the facts that I need to prove the elements of my defence and also to include testimony of my state of mind and motivation.
The protest action that I was engaged in on October 24th was a Trident Ploughshares disarmament action. I would like to present as evidence to you the Handbook of Trident Ploughshares (Exhibit No.1) that I edited and much of which I wrote and to direct you to page 18 where you can see our nonviolence guidelines that stress respect for all.
You will note I hope from the testimony given by the police that we were peaceful and nonviolent and treated everyone with respect.
You will also note from the evidence from M.K.Kean that at least one person said we had lawful authority to be in the road, and I hereby give testimony that I certainly did say so.
Then in my evidence during the taped interview I went into quite a few details of why I thought Rolls Royce Raynesbury was complicit in war crimes, as it is involved in the preparations for equipping a machine that can only be used to threaten mass murder, the threat of which is unlawful in international law.
To return to the TP Handbook, you will note on page 81 a map of the main Trident sites in the UK – Derby is marked as a submarine construction site.
Then on page 87 there is a section entitled the Status of Nuclear Weapons which gives details on the British nuclear arsenal. And on page 88 details of British Nuclear Defence Policy.
On page 111 there is a section on Preparations for War Crimes.
I will not go into details at this stage as I will be relying on much of this in my legal argument, and do not want to be repetitious – this is just to put evidence before the court to prove I have thought hard and long about weapons of mass destruction and am of the belief, backed up by much legal research and discussion with international lawyers, that the UK’s Trident nuclear weapon system is unlawful and criminal because it is too powerful to ever be used in compliance with international humanitarian law and thus the manufacture and deployment of this system is also unlawful and criminal. To continue my logic for the sake of completeness, Rolls Royce Raynesbury is thus engaged in preparations for War Crimes and thus my actions in trying to stop people engaging in criminal activities, by trying to stop them getting into work, was a responsible, honourable and reasonable thing to do and provides me with an excuse for my nonviolent actions. These are my beliefs but in my legal argument I will hopefully prove to your satisfaction that this is so.
In the TP Handbook there is also a section on nonviolent action on page 7 that again indicates how I feel about the efficacy of nonviolent civil resistance to criminal actions by the State and its Corporate suppliers. It may not be apparent to the court how nonviolent protest like ours at Derby last October can effectively stop the criminal activities at Derby from taking place. It is my belief that when one’s own State is acting contrary to the rule of law, then we have a right under national and international law to do all in our power, in a nonviolent manner, to try to stop the illegalities from occurring and also to protest as effectively as we can and this does not mean to stand in a police controlled official demonstration area – it means effectively resisting as powerfully as we can whilst keeping nonviolent. The nonviolence is imperative as violence causes violence and it is important to use means consistent with ones aims. If we want peace then we need to be peaceful. Being peaceful does not mean supinely allowing one’s government to unravel international law and lead us into aggressive wars, it does not mean allowing Rolls Royce Raynesbury to be complicit in arming an illegal weapon of mass destruction that could kill millions of innocent civilians. It means peaceful confrontation…………I believe I was doing this at Derby by lying down in the road outside that factory of death.
And finally, once again I would like to draw your attention to the Handbook at page 27 – the section that deals with dialogue and negotiation with the state. You will note that many of the letters were written either by me individually or as part of the Core Organising Group of Trident Ploughshares. They indicate that I have tried lobbying and letter writing and ordinary protesting to try to get the government to change its policies and to abide by international law and dismantle Trident. I did not go to Derby until I had exhausted all reasonable means to remedy the wrong.
I would also like to present as evidence a copy of a letter (Exhibit No.2) that our Trident Ploughshares Derby group wrote to the Management of Raynesbury several months before the action and to which, as usual, there has been no response. It explains ‘our concern in regard to the manufacture of reactor cores for the British nuclear submarine fleet that is carried out at’ the Raynesbury factory. And continues, ’As responsible citizens, we feel it is our duty to let you know that the production of these nuclear components forms an essential contribution to the maintenance of the fleet of British trident nuclear submarines. The possession of the trident weapons system is illegal under both British domestic law and international law, violating, for example, both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (Article VI) and the Geneva Convention (Additional Protocol I of 1977 Article 35, amongst others).
Under the 1950 Nuremberg principals, which have been enshrined in international law, all of us are held to be personally liable for our own actions and we bear a legal responsibility to make sure that we are not involved in serious wrongdoing. Colluding with the British government in the criminal activity of maintaining the trident weapons system turns you and your fellow employees into unwitting lawbreakers.
The trident missiles cannot be deployed without the use of the nuclear fuel rods manufactured at Rolls Royce Raynesway, therefore in order to comply with International law, we request that you undertake to produce a plan for the phasing out of the production of nuclear fuel rods at the Raynesway facility within the next five years. We would like you to make a public statement to this effect by August 2005. The possibility of a nuclear accident occurring at any facility involved in the production of nuclear material presents a continuous hazard. As Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean stated during a discussion about Raynesway in the House of Lords in 1999 “My Lords, I regret to say that risk is part of our everyday experience”. This fact is borne out by HM Nuclear Installations Inspectorate which notes that in the final quarter of 2004 Rolls Royce Marine Power Operations Limited (RRMPOL ) informed the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) of an event involving two breaches of a Criticality Control Certificate at Raynesway. In light of the certainty that accidents do happen, we ask you to instigate a comprehensive evacuation plan for residents and workers within a two mile radius of the factory which has been thoroughly tested and evaluated by the local council and emergency services.’
This last point about safety, although not a primary reason or motivator for my action, was a secondary one as I was and am aware that the normal running of the factory at Rolls Royce Raynesbury involves routine liquid and gaseous radioactive discharges that go into our atmosphere, sewers, air and soil. I believe along with many independent, non-government aligned, scientists that, there is no safe level of radioactivity and the continuing rise in so-called ‘background’ levels of radiation that are continuously being raised due to the amount of radioactivity being leaked out has been cited as a major cause of the spiralling cancer epidemic. One of the biggest areas of high level waste produced at Raynesbury is of course the radioactive nuclear reactors themselves when they reach the end of their life, as there is no effective, safe disposal mechanism in existence, the same as is true for civil nuclear reactors.
I would also like to bring to your attention the fact that I have been involved over the years with numerous attempts to bring the Government to court by being involved in the layings of information and trying to start private proceedings and in asking the police and courts to deal with the crime of UK nuclear weapons. I have been met with the usual outrageous and outmoded reply that anything pertaining to defence matters cannot be adjudicated by the courts – the Crown Prerogative. I am of the view that since the Nuremberg Tribunals and specifically since the Justice Case (US v. Josef Altstoetter 1947 – see page 10 of my submission in Part 2 of my LAR hearing) there is a universality and superiority of international law……….in the Justice Case it was ruled that compliance with German Law was no defence. The Crown Prerogative has no standing in international law when used to stop the courts ruling on the legality or otherwise of nuclear weapons.
Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, ‘Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him……. by law’. My right to an effective remedy has been taken away on numerous occasions and thus I have felt compelled to engage in nonviolent civil resistance to try to remedy the crimes being committed in my name.
I think it is also relevant to point out that at the time of my highway obstruction on 24th October 2005 the UK was engaged in an illegal war of aggression in Iraq and also in an illegal military occupation of Afghanistan. These are my beliefs and the facts that I wanted to lay before you.