Newsletter Number 17, Autumn 2003


Trident Ploughshares at Plymouth
Armistice Day Trial for Devonport Two
Affinity Groups
Sixth Coulport Disarmament Camp
A First Action at Faslane
UK’s Weapons of Mass Destruction programme
Non Stop Nukestop begins!
Ulla is not in court
Direct disarmament against war on Iraq – why should we let them get away with murder?
Selective Arresting Violates Human Rights?
Court support is vital
Nuclear Weapons Inspection at Lakenheath
Legality of Iraq war will be debated in court
Tri-denting It Handbook update
Trident Ploughshares needs funds!


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Trident Ploughshares at Plymouth

This October’s Devonport camp was held on Drake’s Hill with a wonderful view over the Camel’s Head Gate end of the dockyard where Vanguard is being refitted. Around 35 people including a number of new local folk gave a strong message on local TV and in newspapers, that nuclear weapons in Plymouth are a global issue.

Thursday morning started damp and overcast and minus the van from Scotland. But by 11 o’clock the sun was shining and an advance guard set off for the campsite at Drake’s Hill. Soon several tents were set up and Matt went off to put up signposts. At the Mowhay Road entrance he was happened upon by two of Devon and Cornwall’s “friendly police liaison officers” – the site was no longer a secret. In the early afternoon the van arrived from Helensburgh and people were appearing. With some sweating the tat was carried the hundred or so yards to the camp, much to the interest of the workers in the nearby bread factory.

Most arrivals admired the fine view from our hillside across the north end of the naval base and the river. A few exceptions were a large police presence and two gentlemen from Plymouth City Council. Armed with maps they told us that we were on council property and they would be seeking a possession order to evict us. They were informed that we would only be there until Monday and it would be a pointless exercise. Ganesh and Rhona turned up with the kitchen and the camp felt established if somewhat insecure due to the threat of eviction. That evening’s meeting decided our first line of defence would be to challenge the order in the County Court the next morning.

Friday had its ups and downs. Before dawn the Muriel Lesters (if only all affinity groups were as active) and a few supporters set off for Camel’s Head Gate in the van. They were followed, stopped, searched and arrested including Elizabeth of Plymouth Group who was following in her own car to take photos and give out leaflets. All were bundled off to Charles Cross police station. Matt and Margaret headed for the County Court for 9.30 where they found out that no orders for “interim possession” had been applied for and the JPs were not sitting that day – the threatened eviction disappeared like the rain clouds and the immediate future looked bright. A small picket was then established outside the police station for an hour or so until lunchtime.

Friday afternoon brought a two hour visit from “police liaison” and another from the council who informed us that if we were not gone from Drake’s Hill by midday Tuesday eviction proceedings would be started. At about six o’clock the detainees began to be released and were brought back to camp. Three face no charges whatsoever. The rest have to return at a later date including Yong Woo from Korea who wasn’t questioned due to the lack of an interpreter. The van was impounded by the police following a call to the hirers – by the police – about the mornings events.

Saturday began with the unexpected and very welcome donation of bread and rolls from the bakery at the back of the campsite. The day’s programme was leafleting in the town centre followed by a picnic at the Peace Gardens, on Plymouth Hoe dedicated to ‘All Those Striving For World Peace’. Here again our “police liaison” turned up, as chatty as always. Meanwhile, on another part of the Hoe, a group of women from Totnes and Plymouth performed a ritual of healing and peace and then processed towards St.Levan’s Gate, the nearest gate to HMS Vanguard itself. This unannounced action drew a large police presence as well as plenty of supportive beeps from passing motorists.

An hour or so after the end of the picnic “police liaison” appeared at the campsite. By this time everyone was sick of these blatant intrusions and they were told to back off, which they did, and police presence generally was scaled down. The afternoon took on a sunnier relaxed aspect including workshops with an excellent session on ISOLUS (see page 3).

Saturday night saw a sharp frost but a bright start to Sunday morning helped the warm camp atmosphere. More workshops took place, including planning for next year’s camp. An article in Plymouth’s Sunday Independent complained that we may have to put up with European bureaucrats but why should Plymouth put up with European protesters! Our multi faith service outside Drake Gate was very diverse, with a number of people including local Pagans making their own contributions. This made for a good feeling of community and of the upholding of our actions with the beliefs we have about all life being sacred.

Monday’s action at Camel’s Head Gate went well. The usual massive police present didn’t stop a partial blockade and two arrests. Media interest throughout the camp was high, raising the issue of nuclear weapons and nuclear power in the city of Plymouth. Although some sections of the local press was complaining about “outsiders” no hostility was encountered all weekend. Perhaps, though, the best quote came from (I think) Peter Lanyon who said, “It doesn’t matter what people in Plymouth do think or don’t think, nuclear weapons are a global issue.”

By Tuesday everything was packed, the pits were filled in, all rubbish removed and a clear site was left for the enjoyment of the local dog-walkers. Far too many people put in sterling work for them all to be thanked here but, hopefully, they will all return in May with lots of friends and allies. We’ll see you then!

Armistice Day Trial for Devonport Two

On the evening of Sunday 21st September Matt Bury & Sue Brackenbury entered Devonport naval dockyard in Plymouth in an attempt to disarm Britains nuclear weapon system.

We were equipped with various items including a crow bar, a hammer, wire cutters, a hacksaw, spray paint and Golden Syrup and notices saying “Caution, do not use. This equipment has been disarmed – seek advice”.

We later found out that a really nice taxi driver had seen us entering the dockyard and decided it was in his interest to go and alert the security at the gates.

The MOD Police came looking for the intruders. After arresting us, the officers asked us how many others were in the dockyard. Our reply with our faces up against the wall was “just us”. They got some exercise that evening as they had to search the entire dockyard to make sure no one else had managed to get in.

I was the first to get “booked in”, after being driven to Charles Cross police station. I had an officer who was new to the job and was learning what to do. Either I’m getting older or they are getting younger… We got a message from the senior officer saying they wanted my clothes as evidence. So I had a nice cool blue paper boiler suit and flip flops to wear for the rest of my stay at the police station. The reason for taking my clothes was so that they could get the rope fibres off as evidence against us. Not really necessary because we had been arrested inside the dockyard itself, surely enough evidence to link us to the scene? Even so, it took until Tuesday morning and the help of a solicitor to get my clothes back.

Later on Monday we both got interviewed by the MOD police and then later charged with section 3 and 4a of the Criminal Damage Act 1971. Our bail was refused but in a way we knew this was going to happen. So we settled down for another night in the cells.

The next morning we were taken to Plymouth magistrates court. Our solicitors came down to see us, and inform us of bail restrictions that were to be put before the magistrates. They wanted to ban us from entering Plymouth and Devon! We both objected to this. I informed my solicitor that instead I would accept a restriction around the dockyard. We both pled Not Guilty and elected for Crown Court. The committal hearing is on 11th November at 11am. The precise anniversary of the armistice at the end of World War I – the “ war to end all wars”.

All supporters are welcome to attend on that date and are requested to wear white peace poppies.

Affinity Groups

Affinity groups are made up of 3 or more people who have signed the Pledge to Prevent Nuclear Crime. Affinity groups do nonviolence training together, and prepare and support each other when doing arrestable actions. Each group is different – some groups do practical tasks at camps, local campaigning, or use particular talents for music or performing. Contact TP if you are thinking of starting a group.

Meals not Missiles affinity group

“Our affinity group has been going for about two years. I wanted to focus my TP energies on cooking, and I saw that Ganesh was doing the same thing, so we got together and decided on the name. We’ve gathered members as camps go on and people are drawn to the cooking. Everyone has done actions, but the main focus is cooking.

My favourite thing about the group is when everyone says what a nice dinner that was! Generally, I feel very positive about the fact that we can provide dinner if 200 people turn up – I’d only cooked for 20 people before.

To people starting up a new affinity group I would say: find people who want to do the same things as you – don’t necessarily look to people just because they live near you. Also, remember some groups will have a natural life span.”

Muriel Lester affinity group

“Our group has been going almost since the start of TP, but I joined two years ago. I think the others wouldn’t mind me saying we are quite a ‘grey’ group (i.e. older!), which makes a good impact at actions. We have acquired a certain expertise at doing lock-ons in blockades. We do actions at Devonport and Faslane, but our strategy now is to focus on Aldermaston.

My favourite thing about the group is that we a relaxed together and support each other. Our recent lock-on at Devonport being on the front page of local news was a high point.

To people starting a new group, I’d say you need to do an action together fairly soon – something not high risk, like a sit down blockade. Most of all, value everyone’s contribution to the group, and care for each other.

Sixth Coulport Disarmament Camp

The two-week Trident Ploughshares disarmament camp took place for the sixth time this August, in the wonderful surroundings of the Peaton Glen Wood. The camp brought together anti-nuclear activists from across Europe for the usual mixture of actions, workshops, socialising, and good vegan food. There were many highlights, and I’m sure everyone at the camp would pick a different part.

The bombing of Hiroshima was commemorated with a blockade of the main gate of Faslane, while a storm on Loch Long provided a stirring backdrop to the commemoration of Nagasaki Day later in the camp. The fuel depot was occupied for hours, with one activist remaining in a tree overnight.

A spectacular attempt to remove a large section of the fence of Faslane with a petrol driven circular saw ended with a few arrests and a neat cut in the fence.

As in previous years, the presence of international activists was a great boost to the camp, bringing fresh ideas and a new perspective on this international problem. Swedish activists made attempts to imitate their fellow Swede Hans Blix, by swimming into Faslane to carry out a citizens weapons inspection.

A Finnish affinity group make a first attempt to swim into Coulport along the rocky shoreline to the north of the base.

There was also a surprise visit from Ulla Roder, who was released from prison during the camp, and came to join us.

The international press also seemed to grasp the importance of this disarmament work a lot more readily than their London based counterparts, with articles appearing in Belgian, Finnish, German and Swedish newspapers, while the Morning Star was the only national paper from south of the border to pick up the story. Local press were also interested in reporting what people from their region got up to on their summer holidays. The arrest tally was 44 arrests of 33 individuals.

A First Action at Faslane

The first action in which a a campaigner risks arrest is always full of emotion – fear, anxiety, the exhilaration of overcoming these feelings to act openly against nuclear terror. An arrestable action can be as simple as sitting down, or refusing politely to move. Sam’s first action, dsecribed below, involved a small white van, a big red minibus, a circular saw and some complicated co-ordination….

The plan looked something like this… a small white van with the vital piece of equipment – one two-stroke circular saw, hired that day … a big red minibus with a dozen protestors intent on gaining entry into Faslane to do a weapons inspection and disarm any illegal weapons …

We would attempt to break in at a place near to the Trident area, and at a join between two sections of razor wire – easier to pull apart. Phill would get out of the small van and start to cut the fence with the saw, while Sue would help Roz into her wheelchair and they would join him at the fence. Simultaneously, the larger van would arrive and a semi-circle of protesters would surround the cutter to stop police interfering. A couple of people with bolt-cutters would then enter the hole to cut away the razor-wire, followed by the rest. Roz and Sue would then blockade the hole to stop police following us. Entering the base would set off the bandit alarm, causing all work in the base to be ceased. We would all then either try to get to the Trident area or hide making the length of time the bandit alarm is active, longer. This was the plan. So as we set off we knew that the only certain thing was that it was going to go nothing like this.

As we boarded the red van it struck me. Soon I was going to be either in Faslane, or in custody. Nobody talked much in the van. We were all far too nervous. Nobody had ever taken a circular saw to the fence before. I felt like a scout leader had practised a triple bowline with my intestines! My mouth went bone dry and my hands became very sweaty.

The van journey was short and in no time at all we were nearing the base. Our two-vehicle convoy pulled out from behind the trees and we could see the fence. It was all going to plan. One thing that we couldn’t hire was luck. Unfortunately, this was something we desperately needed. A MOD police 4X4 from Coulport was driving along on the opposite side of the road from us. Time seemed to slow as we passed each other. We looked at them. They looked at us. They knew we were on an action. Hearts stopped as we looked behind us to see them turning around and then look forward to see the white van stopping. Phill leapt out of the front and back doors flew open. Roz and Sue were at the fence in seconds.

I jumped out as the red van still moved. I was running along beside it trying to open the door. I managed to get my hands on the handle and pulled. Nothing happened. I tugged again. Nothing happened. I was so worried that this was going to be the downfall of the action. Finally it opened and everyone spilled out onto the pavement.

We ran up to Phill and stood behind him. We could hear the roar of the saw and red-hot sparks flew all over the place, mostly onto the ground. Behind the van we could see the police vehicle pulling up. Out jumped two policemen who casually jogged towards us. When they suddenly realised that we had a circular saw their eyes became wide and they started sprinting. The semi-circle of people suddenly dispersed. Everyone saw the police and started to walk away! I realised that if there was any way of this action working those two would have to be stopped before they got to my dad. I started walking towards them. Another protester, a German called Nashi, had the same idea. The first cop arrived and Nashi just stood in front of him with his arms apart like a rugby player. The cop had no choice but to arrest him. The second cop came a few seconds later and I stood in front of him with my hand out. My high pitched nervous voice screamed above the engine noise, “for your own safety I’m going to ask you to stay here because its very dangerous over there.” He stopped, looked at me, looked at my dad, seen the sparks, looked at me again. He was completely bemused as to what to do. He was obviously agreeing with me that it was dangerous but he still couldn’t get over the fact that THERE WAS SOMEONE TAKING A CIRCULAR SAW TO THE FENCE! The policeman who nicked Nashi pulled out his radio. “Urgent assistance required!” he screeched into microphone, his voice as high pitched as mine. The policeman I was arguing with eventually pushed me out of the way just as I looked up and saw another 4X4 come hurtling down the other side of the road with its flashing light on. The policeman who had barged past me wrapped his arms around Phill. I didn’t think that this was the time for hugs! My dad turned the engine off, placed the saw on the ground and took a step away. The action was over.

Yeah right! The saw had made a slit from the ground up about five feet. I pulled the two pieces apart and tried to get through the gap, but it was just too small. A policeman with Nashi in one arm grabbed me round the waist and pulled me back. “Right, you’re under arrest.”

I was ordered to turn around and face the fence and to put my arms out. I was searched by the roadside. A car with some boys from school in it drove past. They looked on in disbelief as they saw the flashing lights, policemen and me being searched.

We were loaded into a police van. Phill looked at me. We were both giggling and shaking from adrenaline. “We just took a circular saw to the Faslane fence.” I casually said. “I know.” He replied. “That’s so cool.” I couldn’t think of any other way of describing it. From there we were taken to the police station inside the base, where we were charged with malicious mischief. After six long and tedious hours in custody Phill and I were released and told to come back to court the next day. Nashi was held over because he was already on bail.

The next day we were brought before the magistrate, I in my court attire (kilt). I pled not guilty.

Over all the action wasn’t great but it was only the start. Next time we may get in and could even get to the submarines. As my first time in cells, my first break-in attempt and my first court appearance it wasn’t too bad.

UK’s Weapons of Mass Destruction programme

On the last day of Trident Ploughshares 2002 camp at Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Berkshire, the news broke of the AWE’s far reaching plans to prepare the site to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons

(see Issue Number 15, Winter 2002).

UK nuclear policy – the US connection

This article is reproduced from a new briefing produced by Aldermaston Women’s Peace Campaign. Copies of the full four page briefing can be obtained from the address at the end.

While TP activists joined many thousands of people around the world in vigils, protests and ceremonies to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki day, at a Strategic Command base in Nebraska, Pentagon officials and scientists opened a meeting to plan new developments in US nuclear weapons.

UK nuclear policy – and weapons research and production – is inextricably linked with US nuclear policy. The UK can’t even fire a nuclear missile without US permission. The Trident missile – our current delivery system – is manufactured in the US by Lockheed Martin; and the warheads built at Aldermaston are similar to those built in the USA.

The first private company to run AWE – Hunting BRAE – was a consortium including US Halliburton subsidiary, Brown and Root. The current consortium includes US arms giant Lockheed Martin. In early 2003, the US announced its new nuclear doctrine; new US legislation allowed new funds for weapons development, and the renewed possibility of nuclear testing.

Joint research between Aldermaston and the US is carried out under the 1958 UK-US Mutual Defence agreement. Recently this included joint subcritical tests into the properties of plutonium. Technical exchanges on warhead matters take place regularly in Joint Working Groups and through exchange of information and visit reports between AWE and the US.

In 2002 AWE scientists visited 25 US institutions including the Department of Defence, laboratories, arms companies and other sites including the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, National Nuclear Security Administration Headquarters, Bechtel Nevada and of course Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space. Scientists from 19 of these sites visited AWE. This information was gained in response to a Parliamentary Question by Alan Simpson MP on 9 July 2003.

“At the Offut Strategic Command base near Bellevue Nebraska, a group of Pentagon officials, scientists from the nuclear weapons laboratories, weapons contractors and spooks met for a week in early August 2003 to plot the latest developments in the USA’s nuclear arsenal. The meeting started on the anniversary of the dropping of the Hiroshima bomb, and ended on that of Nagasaki. (Source:

Wherever US nuclear policy goes it sees the UK follows close behind.

Briefings and more information:

157 Lyndhurst Road, Worthing BN11,,

‘No decisions are yet needed’

In answer to parliamentary questions on the developments at Aldermaston, the government line is a soothing ‘no decision is yet needed’. This is in stark contrast to clear evidence that many decisions are indeed being taken about the type of facilities and scientists needed at the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

Question from Alan Simpson MP 12 June 2003: whether scientific endeavours at AWE include research on new designs for nuclear warheads.

Reply from Dr. Moonie: There are no current plans for any replacement for Trident and no decisions are yet needed. In line with the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, it is our policy to maintain the capability to design and produce a successor weapon should this prove necessary.

Question from Alan Simpson MP 12 June 2003: what discussions the Government have had on the possibility of a follow-on to the Trident nuclear weapon.

Reply from Mr. Hoon: There are no current plans for any replacement of Trident and no decisions are yet needed. … the United Kingdom’s nuclear weapons have a continuing use as a means of deterring major strategic military threats, and they have a continuing role in guaranteeing the ultimate security of the UK. In line with the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, it is our policy to maintain a minimum capability to design and produce a successor to Trident should this prove necessary.

Non Stop Nukestop begins!

After deciding that the bases at Faslane and Coulport get let off too lightly between the mass actions, Trident Ploughshares has launched the “Non-stop Nukestop” to encourage affinity groups to take nonviolent direct action to disrupt work at the bases throughout the year. The series of actions got off to a flying start when the Ceilidh Creatures blocked the main gate of Coulport on 15th September.

Roz, Mark and Sue give an account of the action…

These are the weapons our government threatened to use against Iraq

At 7.15am the Kibble roundabout by the main entrance to Coulport was very quiet, with only one security officer on the gate. As we approached to block the entrance the officer ran backwards and forwards not knowing what to do. Three of us ‘locked on’ with a steel pipe under a wheelchair and a second plastic pipe. The gate was blocked and we could at last relax a little.

It was a lovely day looking over the loch. You could easily forget why you were there. We taped up a sign saying “Weapons of Mass Destruction still here.” We sat there with the knowledge of the suffering of Iraqi civilians who have faced so much trauma and destruction on the basis that their dictator was thought to have (as yet still unfound) WMD’s. Yet here we were, on beautiful Loch Long, with WMD right behind those fences. These are weapons that our government threatened to use against Iraq.

The MOD arrived and Mark our supporter was moved away. Officers at the roundabout, and police lights at the top of the hill re-directed traffic to the second “Construction Gate” into the base.

The Coulport cutting team pulled up in a truck loaded with first aid kits, fire extinguishers, angle grinders, cutters and even a spare wheelchair. They are polite and used to such occasions. After fencing in the three of us, they cut the plastic tube and Roz was literally lifted for ‘Breach of the Peace’.

Marilyn and Sue were left still blockading the road. Sue was glad to be able to move her arm and rest it on to the road before the worrying time when the steel pipe was cut by angle-grinder.

It took 3 hours for the MOD to clear us from the road. Hopefully Non-stop Nukestop will encourage more groups to organise actions between camps, and so put more pressure on the working of the WMD system that our own country uses to threaten innocent folk everywhere.

Over the past few months there have been many inspiring actions at Faslane, Coulport and other nuclear related sites. If your group would like to publicise an action it has done, or if you have interesting, amusing, empowering or unusual stories from Trident Ploughshares action, send your news to: and we’ll try to include them in the next edition of Speed the Plough.

Ulla is not in court

On the 10th of March 2003, Danish peace activist Ulla Roder was arrested and charged with malicious damage to a Tornado ground attack aircraft parked in a hanger at RAF Leuchars in Fife. Tornados from Leuchars were involved in the bombing of Iraq and patrolling the No Fly Zones.

After spending four months on remand in Cornton Vale prison Ulla was released without bail conditions by Edinburgh High Court on 8th August.

After many adjournments her trial was due to begin on 28th October but when she did not appear at a pre-trial hearing on 15th October that date was cancelled. If and when they apprehend her they will set new dates.

Writing from her time on remand Ulla said: “People’s disarmament has started. People are not blind or deaf. Nor are we stupid. We don’t buy any more of their lies. It’s going on now there is not a week without worldwide protest, civil resistance and direct action.”

Formore information, contact Free Ulla Campaign, 72 High Street, Kinghorn, Fife KY3 9UE Scotland,

Direct disarmament against war on Iraq – why should we let them get away with murder?

Many Trident Ploughshares pledgers and supporters joined in the protests against the war on Iraq. Some also used direct disarmament to try to prevent the bombing of Iraqi civilians.


As we walked beside the fences at Fairford one Sunday, everyone was talking about what the B-52 bombers stationed there would do to the people of Iraq. Paul Milling and I both wanted to try and prevent what we feared would be terrible loss of life.

What if we damaged the support system of the bombers, to delay their taking off? The trucks that carry the bombs to the B-52 bombers were out in an open yard, for all to see. Behind a chain link fence and a few coils of razor wire, one could see fuel tankers. If the trucks couldn’t load the bombs, and the planes couldn’t be re-fuelled, wouldn’t that slow them down a bit? Enough to allow a few Iraqi civilians time to gather up their kids and belongings, and blag a lift out of Baghdad before the blitz started? It seemed worth a go .

Just after 7pm, Paul and I slipped into the bomb truck compound. We cut a lot of brake pipes, on maybe twenty vehicles. Somegrinding paste went into a petrol tank. We put notices on some trucks: “Out of Order – Do Not Use” and “Prevent War Crime.” There were also three tankers in the compound. Their cabs were open and two had ignition keys in the dashboard. We opened the door of the nearest, and worked over the windows and dashboard with our hammers systematically. We made what seemed like a lot of noise – but no one came. Encouraged, we each took on a second cab.

As we were walking away from our handiwork, a shadow fell across the ground. Round the corner came a young American soldier -who was clearly more scared than we were. After all, we’d been expecting someone to turn up – he hadn’t. To his credit, he kept his gun pointed at the ground. While we dropped our tools and stood against a shed, we told him we were peaceable. He called up his mates, and they ran all over the yard – looking under vehicles – shouting – probably freaked by what their commanding officer would say about the damage. It’s claimed to be worth about $18,000 – plus eight cents.

“Do you consider yourself a terrorist?” “Do you hate Americans?” were two of the questions the M.o.D police asked us after our arrest. We were happy to be able to answer “No” to both. Now we’re out on bail, awaiting a trial in the spring – to be preceded by a week-long hearing on the legal issues related to the war.

We hope that all concerned will recognise the spirit in which all of us undertook our various actions – that they will understand Whitehall and the White House are where the real criminals are to be found.


Margaret Jones

Blaze of a rising moon. Fixed in its stare,

A burning stretch of white back country road.

Along this path we seized our choice to tread

What unseen barrel tracks us ? Getting near . . .

Stumble through wire . School yourself to wait,

Crouched at the fencing where the bomb trucks stand

Hunker down. Freeze, while headlights sweep their round.

Crash of hammers shatters the listening night.

Young man in combats, point your weapon down.

Gabble required commands, but quell your fright.

If we could talk ! Assure me we might share

Disquiet. Must children die for the crime of being born?

Let’s walk among our dragons, freed from fear

While gentle Quakers hold us in the Light.

Margaret Jones

Legality of Iraq war will be debated in court

In an unexpected development in the cases of activists on trial in Gloucester Crown Court, it has now been decided that the questions of whether the Iraq war breached international and/or UK domestic law will be debated before a judge at Bristol Crown Court.

The hearing will be a preliminary to the trials of five peace protesters – among them TP members Paul Milling and Margaret Jones – charged with conspiracy and criminal damage related offences at Fairford Air Force base last March.

Because the Preliminary Hearing on the legal issues related to the war raised by the defence arguments is of considerable general public interest, and likely to last more than five days, Judge Tabor decided there was a need for better facilities for the jury and members of the public, than Gloucester Crown Court can provide.

Questions raised will include:

Did the war on Iraq breach international law ? If it did, then does that make the war a crime under UK domestic law?

When the cases finally come to trial, lawyers intend to argue that the defendants’ actions were justified by their various attempts to prevent the waging of an immoral and illegal war.

Paul Milling and Margaret Jones are charged with doing damage to bomb tractors and other military vehicles used to supply B-52 bombers. The other cases are those of Phil Pritchard and Toby Olditch (charged with conspiracy to do criminal damage, via an attempt to reach and disarm a B-52 bomber), and of Josh Richards.

More information: 0117 946 6885 or 07711-214-168

Selective Arresting Violates Human Rights?

Many of the TP Pledgers and supporters who took part in the Really Big Blockade on 22nd April this year will recall that at the North Gate of Faslane Strathclyde Police operated a policy of ‘selective’ arresting. Most

demonstrators who occupied the access roadway were rapidly warned, detained and charged with Breach of the Peace. However, one large group which included Tommy Sheridan MSP and other candidates for the Scottish Parliament Election on May 1st were not arrested and were permitted to continue their protest without interruption for at least six hours until the blockade ended.

Five Adomnan of Iona Affinity Group members now facing trial for their Really Big Blockade arrests have decided to challenge the legality of their indictments which they claim violate their Human Rights under Article 10 Freedom of Expression, Article 11 Freedom of Assembly and Association, and Article 14 Prohibition of Discrimination. They will argue their case by submitting to the District Court as a Preliminary Plea an Objection to Competency in the form of a ‘devolution issue’. Section 6(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998 states “It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right”. For this purpose, the police and the court are “public authorities”. Consequently, the Adomnan Group will claim that the Procurator Fiscal has no power to continue to prosecute them on these charges.

If any others arrested on 22nd April would like further information aboutthis they are welcome to get in touch with me at:

Alan Wilkie

Court support is vital

“I once went to a trial on my own, which felt quite lonely. At the last minute, in walked two trainee lawyers – a friend who knew them asked them to come. Their friendly faces supported me, and even better, one of them had never heard of the relevant international law defence, and was filled with enthusiasm to find out more. It made the fine worthwhile!”

Direct action is a very empowering experience. It is important however that we ensure the court case and any means hearings that follow also leave us feeling positive.

When there are many cases being heard at the same time it is encouraging to listen to everyone else’s defences, but if your case is heard in isolation and there is no one to talk to at court or have a coffee with afterwards it can be a particularly negative experience.

It is important that affinity groups keep track of when their members are in court and ensure that someone from the group or elsewhere will be in court offering support. This can be difficult if the trial is miles from home but maybe someone from a town nearby to the trial could be contacted. There may be times when the defendant feels they don’t need support, but we never know what trick the court may have up its sleeve. We should always make sure our affinity group knows when we are in court.

Trials are a good opportunity to involve those who may not want to get arrested themselves. In fact, seeing the court process and the support given to activists may actually encourage people to get involved in future actions.

Lyn Bliss

Nuclear Weapons Inspection at Lakenheath

100 local and international peace activists (including many Trident Ploughshares pledgers) gathered at Lakenheath US Air Base, in Suffolk on 5th and 6th October for 2 days of actions against the nuclear weapons that are based there. The actions were organised by the Lakenheath Action Group.

The sign by the main gate says RAF Lakenheath. But if you speak to anyone living in the area, or if you meet anyone working in the base, there is no doubt that this is a US Airbase, home to the 48th Fighter Wing, otherwise known as the “Liberty Wing”, which has been involved in bombing campaigns against Iraq for the past 12 years, and was also responsible for the attacks on Libya in 1986. It is also home to up to 30 US nuclear weapons, the only remaining US nuclear weapons in Britain. NATO’s “first strike” policy means that these weapons can be used to threaten non-nuclear states, in clear contravention of international law.

Last year, the Lakenheath Action Group was formed to raise awareness of the presence of nuclear weapons on the base, and ultimately to get rid of them!

The demonstration on Sunday brought together over 100 activists from East Anglia, London and elsewhere in Britain, as well as an international “citizens weapons inspection team” made up of people from Malta, Austria, France, Belgium and England working with For Mother Earth in Belgium. After a few short speeches there was a wonderful street theatre performance from the “Theatre of War” group, poetry and a string trio. In amongst this all, the inspection team got on with their work of interviewing police, military, activists and press about their knowledge of the presence of weapons of mass destruction in the base.

On Monday morning, the inspection stepped up a gear with two groups of inspectors managing to get into the base, despite heightened levels of security (already stepped up due to the war in Iraq). While a group of local activists spread wild flowers to symbolically reclaim the base for peaceful purposes, the international team continued their inspection of the base, going in search of anyone who could answer their questions about the alleged storage of nuclear weapons.

The international inspection team plan to compile a report of their inspection to send to the UN security council. It will also be presented to UN disarmament ambassadors as part of the Non-Proliferation Treaty conference in New York in Spring 2004. As well as presenting evidence of the presence of nuclear weapons on the base, the inspection report will highlight the official secrecy surrounding the base, which means that neither the US nor the UK government will officially confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons or storage facilities for these weapons on the base.

The inspectors are also concerned about the criminalisation of weapons inspectors, after the police made 11 arrests for criminal damage to the perimeter fence. 1 member of the international inspection team and 5 local activists (including one arrested outside the base for intent to cause criminal damage) will face court cases as a result of the action. 4 members of the international inspection team accepted cautions.

To find out more about Lakenheath airbase or Lakenheath Action Group visit:

For more info about citizens inspections, visit:

Tri-denting It Handbook update

Our handbook “Tri-denting It” is in its third edition, printed in 2001. To keep it as up to date as possible we have made a one page insert with new material. You can get this page from the website or from David Mackenzie or 08454588366

Trident on Trial

The comprehensive story of the campaign and the legal arguments.

£9.99 plus £1.51 postage (312 pages)

Angie Zelter, Valley Farmhouse,

East Runton, Cromer, Norfolk

NR27 9PN

Trident Ploughshares needs funds!

Since we received the Right Livelihood award our income has decreased quite drastically. Many quite rightly thought that there was not the urgency to donate to our funds. However if we continue to eat through that money at the rate we are going we will be bankrupt during 2004. We would like you to consider making a donation to Trident Ploughshares by standing order, so that we can guarantee a certain level of income. There is a standing order form included with this newsletter.

Of course, one-off donations are still very necessary and welcome! Please also encourage groups to which you belong to donate to us from time to time. Specifically, Speed the Plough is valued and appreciated by its readers but it is an expensive item.

One-off donation cheques should be made out to “Trident Ploughshares” and sent to TP at

42-46 Bethel Street Norwich NR2 1NR United Kingdom.

Thank you for your support.