Newsletter Number 9, November 2001


Trash Trident Trial
Trash Trident Case will go to a third Trial
The joy of court support
Concourse or Concord?
Faslane and Coulport in August
Statement of the Peace Walk, read out on August 1st
United Network Commission for Law Enforcement (UNCLE)
Nuclear Inspection Team
Power in Diversity
The Lord Advocate’s Reference
Trident on Trial
Other TP News
Après Court – TP Style
Woodwoses in action at Aldermaston
The Big Blockade
Jubilee Ploughshares 2000
Singing for our lives!


Welcome to the ninth issue of Speed the Plough! Trident Ploughshares is a campaign to disarm the UK Trident nuclear weapons system in a nonviolent, open, peaceful and fully accountable manner. 169 people from 14 countries have pledged to disarm Trident in this way and our supporters’ database contains 1500 names, including many famous people and parliamentarians. We act to uphold international humanitarian law and to expose the illegality of the Trident system.

Trash Trident Case will go to a third Trial The verdict: Not (terribly) Guilty

In Manchester on September 20th a jury found Rosie and Rachel, of Aldermaston Women Trash Trident affinity group, Not Guilty on a minor charge of criminal damage, but told the judge they were unable to reach a majority verdict on the major charge of disarming radar-testing equipment.

After a two-week delay, the Crown Prosecution confirmed that they will continue with the second charge to a third trial, following a mistrial at Lancaster In January, and the hung jury in Manchester.

Rachel’s reaction to hearing that the next trial will be next March, two years after their disarmament action, was ’Great! It’s another opportunity to bring the argument against Trident before another British court!

The refusal to convict the two was particularly encouraging for TP as the jury were only allowed to consider the very narrow grounds of defence of necessity and self defence allowed under English law, the judge having ruled out defences based on international law. In a brief explanation of his rejection of the defence team’s arguments, he made the extraordinary statement that “crimes against humanity are not crimes in English law”. In his summing up he informed the jury that the British government was not committing a crime in preparing or deploying Trident. However, the jury were evidently not entirely convinced.

The powerful testimony of the expert witnesses must have left a lasting impression on the jury: Paul Rogers of Bradford Peace Studies calmly outlining how close to ’accidental’ nuclear war the world has been; Angie Zelter dealing with TP’s and other’s exhaustive efforts to get the legal system to deal with the illegality of Trident; and Rebecca Johnson, a defence analyst, emphasising how the British government continues to rely on Trident as a first strike weapon.

But above all, it was the straightforward and dignified explanations of Rosie and Rachel from the witness box which must have brought home to the jury the rightness of the action. Rosie described making paper cranes after hearing the story of Saddako as a child, and how she swam out to the submarine to protect everyone she cared about. Rachel, when asked what she thought they had achieved by their action, replied simply ’It worked’.

Perhaps the best part of the trial was hearing, through the guarded statements of prosecution witnesses, that the action had indeed worked Â- for a certain length of time, perhaps weeks, perhaps even months, one quarter of Britain’s nuclear fleet was delayed from deployment.

Helen Harris

The joy of court support

Very many thanks to all the TP-ers and everyone else who turned up to support Rosie and Rachel at the Manchester Trial. We all very much appreciated your support, with particular big thanks to Peter (the man who never stops leafleting), Bob (the man who never stops shopping), Yuko (the woman who never stops drumming), Roger (for his persistence), everyone at Mount Street and Stockport Friends Meeting; David and Jane for technical intervention when our brains had ceased to work; Cat & Helen for hot baths and anyone who’s ever sent AWTT any money. Lots of love and don’t forget to resist militarism with every waking breath

from AWTT support team

Concourse or Concord?

Each time I trod the imposing concourse towards the courtroom in Manchester where Rosie and Rachel were being tried, I became more aware of the statues towering over us. Sir Thomas More, Sir William Gascoine, Matthew Hale Â- who wrote a treatise on the Common Law – they were all so sternly fixed, so cast in stone. Was that a good omen for our task of helping the same law to encompass international humanitarian law

Eight of these statues, all men who represented the history of the Common Law, formerly adorned the front of the old Assize Building in Salford. They are now all in the splendid new Crown Court building.

As one uncoils from the swing doors at the entrance to the concourse, and absorbs its grandeur, one passes another, less magisterial statue. It is the only female one and, vulnerable in her delicate garments, Mercy is easier to overlook. In Salford – significantly – the old Assize judges used to pass her as they left their lodgings across the courtyard.

Where does Mercy lie now? The history of the Common Law, bridged by those eight patriarchal law-givers, has brought us to the point where aggression and ’male’ violence threaten the survival of our civilisation. Mercy, like so many other caring and nurturing qualities, has been down-graded and passed by. Some may compare this with the Marian ideal, others may think of the Goddess, of Parvati or of Tara.

Let us not underestimate the magnitude of what we are trying to bring about in these trials, nor wonder at the difficulties being placed in our way. We are attempting nothing less than the reinstatement, on an equal basis with the male, of the female principle of the Common Law.

May the Lord and the Lady have mercy upon us!

Peter Lanyon

Statement of the Peace Walk, read out on August 1st

“We, the peacewalkers, are here! We are English, Scottish, Japanese, Dutch, Scandinavian, we are Buddhists, anarchists, Christians, Communists, pagans and just people without affiliation.

We are monks, Ploughshares activists, students, retired folk, CNDers, meditators.

We all left our home for the past five weeks, to walk together from Aldermaston to Faslane.

We walked under the same sunshine, in the same rain, breathing the same car fumes and enjoying the same hills.

We were carried by the help of hundreds of local people in England and Scotland, who fed us, supported, helped and encouraged us, to get here.

We walked for change. Change in ourselves, the communities we came through, and in our society.

We walked, remembering the victims of nuclear weapons, and we walked with the spirit of Saddako. All over England and Scotland, we left a trail of paper cranes, with Saddako’s story – we know it will spread.

We walked, because we care about life. We cherish this world, and don’t want to see it destroyed.

We feel nuclear weapons are evil, immoral, illegal, unnecessary and sinfully wasteful. We recognise that, to create a better, peaceful world, we can no longer wait for our leaders, experts and authorities. We must all individually take responsibility, it’s up to ALL of us to start the change, each in our own way. We will continue to take our steps to disarmament, and urge you to do the same.”

United Network Commission for Law Enforcement (UNCLE) Nuclear Inspection Team

This mission report is written 16th August 2000 by Kreb Dragonrider of the Women from UNCLE affinity group of Trident Ploughshares 2000. On hearing of illegal warhead cache in RNAD Coulport Permanent Agents Women from UNCLE

Kreb Dragonrider and David Heeler, and Man from UNCLE Zoe Weir went to investigate. This report concentrates on Nuclear Inspection Team’s third field visit to RNAD Coulport. On previous visits our intention to inspect was barred by guards on foot, with dogs, and off-road motorcycles. Other permanent agents being on leave, a number of temporary agents were hastily enrolled. These were Marcus Armstrong and Ulla Roder (on active service) and Jim Bones and Helen (as observers).

Thus, on the afternoon of 14th August 2000 the Nuclear Inspection Team walked through a variety of terrains such as woodland, scrubbery, heather, marsh, and bramble, until we reached the fence of the suspected arms cache. For our inspection mission to be successful, the element of surprise was crucial. With boltcroppers, a hole approximately 0.8 x 0.8m was cut, large enough to admit human people through weld mesh fence. Kreb Dragonrider proceeded at jogging pace on inside of perimeter fence between fence and razor wire, towards the ’Trident Special Area’. After about 200m, Kreb aborted mission and gave himself up for arrest. The other active agents were also arrested.

Legal footnote: law to be enforced is International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on nuclear weapons declaring in short that no legal ground could be fund for use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons. The Geneva Convention 1949 stipulates that schools, hospitals, churches, temples, cemeteries should be protected from attack.

Addendum: Kreb, on achieving fifth arrest in two weeks and breaking special bail conditions was subsequently remanded in custody until 30th August, when said agent was tried on charges of ’Entering Ministry of Defence land

by unauthorised means’, ’Remaining on MoD land,’ ’Malicious mischief’, and ’Breaking bail’.

Power in Diversity

One of the most empowering aspects of Trident Ploughshares is the diversity of the people involved in the group, in terms of age, background and lifestyle. I see that we are building bridges between the divisions which exist within the peace movement and I hope we continue to build and strengthen these bridges. We all, no matter where we are coming from, have valid reasons for wanting to be rid of Trident, although some may be better able to communicate their views. So, whilst I am pleased we are getting some positive media coverage painting us as respectable, intelligent etc., I am aware that for those of us who fall outside the “middle class, retired or professional ” group it is disempowering to be either ignored or compared unfavourably with by the media or on the camps. I hope we have all learned from listening to and working with each other, that groups we may have otherwise thought less of, have valid lifestyles and we can celebrate

diversity together.

Jenny Gaiawyn

 Trident on Trial

The Lord Advocate’s reference

On 9th October a review of the Greenock trial and acquittal of the Trident Three began in the High Court in Edinburgh.

This review is called a Lord Advocate’s Reference since it is a way for that official, the top prosecutor in Scotland and a member of the Executive, to get the High Court to correct what he sees as flawed trial outcomes or rulings. The process involves the Crown and the other interested parties (called Respondents – in this case Angie Ulla and Ellen) putting their arguments before a panel of three High Court judges.

In essence it is a government appeal by the back door against the Gimblett verdict. While it cannot actually overturn the women’s acquittal, a negative outcome would obviously carry the implication that they should have been found guilty. All three Respondents have raised issues arising from the Convention on Human Rights (called Devolution Issues), one of which claims that the process amounts to a retrial of the accused.

The real source of criminality is however being discussed -Trident itself.

The presiding judge, Lord Prosser and the panel are obviously thoroughly engaged. They have shown that they will not be restricted by the terms of the Lord Advocate’s questions but will look at all the relevant issues.

Each of the interested parties will participate in two rounds of speeches.

Simon Di Rollo opened for the crown. The core of his argument is that Britain is not breaking any rule of customary international law by deploying Trident and that it is not threatening to use it and never has.

Intriguingly he read out great chunks of the ICJ Opinion of 1996.

Then came Angie. Representing herself, the only lay person, she said that the proceedings would relate to whether there is a right for ordinary

citizens to prevent innocent people from being murdered. She strongly refuted the Crown statement that she, Ulla and Ellen were engaged in some kind of opposition or protest. They had acted to try to prevent preparations for war crimes. Dealing with the reality of the Trident threat she said: “It was submitted at Greenock that the British Trident system is an immediate and ongoing danger to life on earth, a threat to international peace and specifically unlawful as a breach of the intransgressible rules of humanitarian law as expressed by the ICJ. I continue to submit that we are all still in imminent danger of extinction.”

She showed that the International Criminal Court Statute states that the preparation for war crimes is itself a war crime. It is British government policy to have a “credible deterrent”

“I come back,” she said “once more to the simple underlying purpose of the British nuclear deterrent – to threaten awful destruction. It is that awful destruction, that crime, which we three women were trying to prevent by our action.” Trident’s unlawful status meant that members of the British government and the military personnel involved were all “international criminals subject to trial”. Citizens had time and again attempted to have this criminality addressed through the legal system. No prosecutions had taken place – a “serious indictment of the criminal prosecution service in both England and Scotland.”

In concluding she said: ” The nuclear crime prevention will continue whatever the outcome of the LAR but if the court is wise and courageous it will also grapple with the underlying problems arising out of the Greenock trial – that of the vital question of the illegality of Trident and how to remove it from Scotland.” Sitting there in the court we pinched ourselves to check this was really happening at last – a legal demolition of Trident before an attentive bench and busy public seats in the highest court in Scotland.

She was followed by Gerry Moynihan. Referring to the evidence given by expert witnesses at Greenock he pointed out that Trident was a mass and indiscriminate weapon; that its most likely targets were cities such as Moscow; that it was an offensive and first strike weapon; that it had other purposes than that of ensuring the survival of Britain, it could be used to deal with “rogue states”; that it had been threatened, for example during the Gulf war. Moynihan’s view was that the only reason the ICJ judges did not come out with a blanket ban on nuclear weapons was that some of them felt that a legal use of a small yield weapon against a ship at sea or an isolated military objective in a desert was a possibility. This reservation did not, of course, apply to Trident, which was clearly illegal. Advocate John Mayer, appearing for Ulla, whom he had successfully defended at Greenock, stated that there was no such thing as mere possession of a fleet of Trident nuclear submarines, each armed with live and targeted 100 kiloton warheads. Deploying nuclear weapons means having them in a state of readiness for war.

On Friday 13th October the hearing was adjourned and will take up again on the 14th November. On the Friday evening Edinburgh City Council laid on a civic reception. This was preceded by a seminar organised by World Court Project (UK) in the City Chambers with short speeches from Angie and Stale Eskeland from the University of Oslo. After a week of legal argument, some of it abstruse, both made strong pleas for the court to get to the simple heart of the matter. It was wrong to threaten to murder millions of innocent people. Angie also pointed out that it was only the action and

pressure of ordinary people that changed things. Everyone who possibly could should be at the blockade of Faslane on 12th February next year.

We had a very warm and practical welcome from St. Augustine’s United Church in the centre of the city. They provided us with office and accommodation space and were happy for our banners to be hung outside. A big thank-you to Bungie and David Wright in particular.

David Mackenzie

Latest Update: LAR Hearing ends

Scheduled for five days, this hearing in the High Court in Edinburgh ended up taking nine days to complete. In spite of the fact that the evidence that was presented at Greenock was not made available to the court a very strong case was put forward for Trident’s illegality and the right of citizens to intervene to prevent breaches of international law. The judgment is expected in the next four to eight weeks.

Après Court – TP Style

The 4th October was another of these long days in Helensburgh District Court, with 24 TP cases being discussed, and 6 trials due to take place. In the end none of these trials materialised and we were subjected to the usual chorus of adjournments, stretching well into next year.

Late in the afternoon the court rose but our day was far from over. Why not make all our traveling worthwhile? A dozen or so of us made our way westward to

Coulport .The largest group headed up through the pines, their bolt-cutters in a state of readiness, to the left of the quarry on the east side of the base, while the others went down to the main gate. The large group got to the perimeter fence, deployed their cutters and started to snip the weldmesh wire. They had a good five minutes for their work before

the little gate nearby opened and the MOD police burst out. There was a little tension to begin with as cutters were yanked away and collars were felt and held. Gradually, however, things got more calm and friendly as old friends were recognised and jokes exchanged. The snippers were taken inside and others escorted off the hill by a dog-handler. This police officer defended his position with the “rogue state” argument, so again we were on familiar territory. Back at the main gate Morag was nicked for fence-cutting and carted inside.

Everyone was out again in a few hours and next morning the TV in Scotland ran the story in its morning bulletins, with a library picture of a Trident sub in the Gareloch.

We gave ourselves six to seven out of ten. We need more fence-cutting practice and better tactics. It was a good training and testing event and an excellent antidote to court fever. Is there a precedent here for court days when a good number of us have to travel anyway? I think so.

David Mackenzie

Woodwoses in action at Aldermaston

Four Woodwose members were arrested on 12th November during the weekend camp at Aldermaston. They were attempting to carry out a citizens inspection of the site, to determine for the public what goes on there, especially to investigate the illegal and life-threatening development of new forms of Trident warheads. Barbara Sunderland, Davida Higgin, and Peter Lanyon (all retired school teachers), and Simone Chimowitz; from East Anglia, carried with them statements of intent, stating that:

We are doing this on Remembrance Day because the existence of Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston makes a mockery of the mourning for all those killed in wars and the hopes for peace being expressed today.

They were later released on police bail.


Last FEBRUARY 14TH 400 people sat outside the gates of Faslane. Their peaceful protest closed the base for several hours. With more people we can shut it down for the whole day. We need your help to make it even more effective. You can join the sit-down or support it by standing nearby without risking arrest. The Big Blockade Team will put you in touch with your local group. We are asking everyone taking part to go as a member of a group and to prepare for nonviolent direct action. Training and briefing sessions will be held in your area.

Big Blockade Action Line: 0141 433 2859 Phone for leaflets and posters’

local transport details, dates of training and briefing sessions in your area and up-to-date news.


TP Message Line 01603 469 296

No e-mail? You can still keep up to date by ringing the regularly updated line – for the latest TP news and dates.

Jubilee Ploughshares 2000

On 3rd November, Susan van der Hijden and Martin Newell, “Jubilee Ploughshares 2000”, disarmed a Trident warhead carrier in a hangar at RAF Wittering, Cambridgeshire, causing damage estimated at £32,000. They are both on remand and will appear again in Peterborough Magistrates Court on 7th December.

Write letters of support to: Martin Newell, No EM6780, HMP Bedford, St Loyes Street, Bedford MK40 1HG (tel: 01234 358671); and Susan van der Hijden, No EN5880, HMP Brockhill, Redditch, Worcestershire, B97 6RD.

Send financial support: cheques payable to “Jubilee Ploughshares”, c/o 38 Twinflower, Walnut Tree, Milton Keynes MK7 7LH, England.

Please vigil in solidarity with Martin, Susan and other peace prisoners on December 1st, 12 noon – 2 pm at the Ministry of Defence, London or your nearest military recruitment centre or symbol of Navy or Trident.

Singing for our lives!

Following the resounding success of the singing workshop at Coulport in August, Chris and Jane would like to call on any aspiring singers to form a Trident Ploughshares choir. We used to sing in Raised Voices choir in London, but now that we live in Edinburgh we are missing singing. We have bulging folders of relevant (and irrelevant) songs, old and new, with harmonies and all that, and we’d love to teach some of them to you. No doubt you will know others that we don’t. Who knows, there may also be some budding songwriters among us.

We would love to hear from anyone interested who could meet in the Edinburgh area. You don’t have to read music or be a highly trained singer, though singing vaguely in tune helps. We could either meet for a few rehearsals before a specific event, or regularly if there is enough interest. We could also offer one-off workshops to affinity groups who wanted to learn some songs.

Get in touch if you are interested.