AWE Burghfield protestor raises issue of Trident in court appearance

Newbury & Thatcham Observer report

Posted By: Adam Flinnon:

The first day of the AWE protest on June 6

The first day of the AWE protest on June 6

An anti-nuclear weapons campaigner charged with obstructing the AWE site at Burghfield has used her court appearance to voice concerns about the Trident scheme.

Helen Swanston, 42, of Cromer in Norfolk, appeared at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Friday last week charged with one count of wilful obstruction of the highway.

It came as part of campaign group Trident Ploughshare’s ‘month of action’ throughout June against AWE’s work in manufacturing and maintaining the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent.

The incident happened on June 7, with Swanston accused of lying across the northern entrance at The Mearings to AWE Burghfield for more than two hours.

And in front of magistrates on Friday, Swanston said she believed her actions were “necessary to prevent criminal activity taking place within AWE Burghfield”.

Speaking outside court, she said: “These weapons could never be used legally.

“If Nuremberg principles are to be more than victors’ justice, then it is my duty as a citizen to prevent these war crimes.

“There are seven food banks in the Reading area including one at Burghfield and Mortimer – in these times of austerity it is obscene the Government wants to spend £205billion on weapons it can never legally use.”

Trident was renewed for 35 more years by the Government in July, securing the jobs of more than 4,000 people working at AWE’s two West Berkshire sites in Burghfield and Aldermaston.

In response to Swanston, the prosecution acknowledged that she was “an admirable person who clearly had sincerely-held beliefs”, but argued that as nuclear weapons are not illegal it was the wrong place for a protest.

Three further trials for others charged during the ‘month of action’ have been scheduled between now and January.

Swanston’s case has been adjourned until October 19 for final legal arguments and