Devonport Correspondence

From Angie Zelter to Plymouth Magistrates Court 7 June 2002

Dear Sir,

I am acting for myself and have been charged with an offence under s.137(1) of the Highways Act 1980. My case came before Plymouth District Magistrates’ Court on Friday 17 May 2002. An interlocutory matter arising in these proceedings was dealt with by District Judge Evans.

I was most unhappy about the rulings made on that date and wish to pursue an appeal by way of case stated. I was exercising my right to freedom of expression as protected by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights being engaged in peaceful protest by sitting in the road at the entrance to HMS Drake whereupon, when I refused to move, I was arrested by the police and charged with the offence referred to above. My reason for my expression of opinion in this manner is that I believe that the UK’s deployment of Trident 2 (the UK’s nuclear weapon system) is in breach of intransgressible principles of international humanitarian law. In particular, the high yield of Trident 2 and the consequent effects in terms of blast, heat and radiation over space and time leads me to the conclusion that Trident 2 cannot possibly comply with the rule of discrimination, namely, that a State must never use a weapon that is not capable of distinguishing between a military and a civilian target.

The District Judge has given a ruling that prohibits the defence (there are seven of us) from calling expert evidence on the dangers of Trident 2. Neither will he hear me on this question. Thus the District Judge will not be able to determine whether the State’s interference with my exercise of my right to freedom of expression is permitted by Article 10(2) of the Convention. Accordingly, I ask the District Judge to state a case as follows:

“Having regard to the defendant’s right to a fair trial, in refusing her permission to call expert evidence as to the nature of Trident and as to the level of radiation emanating from Devonport and other safety considerations, did the District Judge act in a manner which was incompatible with her Convention right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights?”

I invite you to state a case at this stage rather than after adjudication of the issues. It should be clear that I would wish to avoid a conviction in the Magistrates’ Court for the reason that I was unable to present my case properly. I believe that this is a point of law which should be established at this stage rather than awaiting final adjudication at the trial in August.

One further point you may wish to address is whether this appeal should proceed by way of case stated or judicial review. If the District Judge decides to state a case then I will of course proceed by way of case stated. If on the other hand he declines to do so I will proceed by way of judicial review. There are various authorities that address the question whether this appeal should proceed by way of case stated or judicial review. Some of these are as follows:

R v Harrow Crown Court, ex p Dave [1994] 1WLR 98, 107E-F (discouraging judicial review where appeal by case stated available); R v Thanet Justices, ex p Dass [1996] COD 77 (understandable that pursued judicial review rather than case stated, so as to secure bail). R v Derwentside Magistrates’ Court, ex p Swift [1997] RTR 96 (case stated better, so as to allow stay of conviction pending appeal); R v Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, ex p Director of the Serious Fraud Office [1994] COD 509 and [1995] COD 77 (judicial review entertained because exceptional case and magistrates having given detailed reasons); R v Clerkenwell Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, ex p Director of Public Prosecutions [1984] QB 821, 833A-836D (matter should have been pursued by case stated, but leave to lodge case stated out of time and judicial review treated as if case stated, and allowed); R v Bristol Magistrates Court, ex p Hodge [1997] QB 974 (challenge to order remitting maintenance arrears should have been by case stated); R v Gloucester Crown Court, ex p Chester [1998] COD 365 (although challenge to Crown Court’s decision dismissing appeals from magistrates should have been by case stated, not a fatal objection); R v Chelmsford Justices, ex p Lloyd The Times 5th December 2000 at [11] (judicial review more appropriate than case stated for issue of extent of magistrates’ jurisdiction to commit for sentence).

I invite you either a) to state a case for the opinion of the High Court; or b) to indicate why it is your view that this matter should proceed by way of judicial review at this stage.

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours in peace and love,

Angie Zelter.