Three anti-nuclear weapons activists charged with breach of the peace
THREE ANTI-NUCLEAR WEAPON ACTIVISTS have been found guilty by a Scottish court on charges of breaching the peace, following their participation in the Trident Ploughshares camp at Peaton Wood on Loch Long.
Brian Quail of Glasgow, Angie Zelton of Knighton, Wales and Sam Donaldson of Hull, England were arrested on 11 July, during a blockade the took part in at the Coulport base, part of HMNB Clyde, where the UK’s nuclear arsenal is stored and its Trident submarines are armed.
Quail and Zelton were subsequently imprisoned for 16 days on remand, having refused to accept special bail conditions which would have barred them from approaching the nuclear bases at Faslane and Coulport.
“That charge is utterly absurd, given the completely peaceful actions of the protesters on the one hand and the palpable criminality of the UK's weapons of mass destruction on the other.” David Mackenzie of Trident Ploughshares
Appearing before Dunbarton’s Justice of the Peace, the activists’ defence included an account by Quail of the effects of nuclear weapons tests upon the people of the Marshall Islands, testimony by Donaldson that his Quaker faith obliged him to follow his conscience in opposing weapons of mass destruction, and an argument by Zelton that her right to express her opinion was enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, including the act of obstructing the activity that was the focus of her protest.
Zelton also argued that UK courts have never attended to the criminality inherent in the active deployment of nuclear weapons. Zelton maintained that she would continue to take part in anti-Trident protests aimed at disrupting the activities of the nuclear bases until Trident was removed. Quail meanwhile reportedly told the JP that he did not accept the verdict.
“A criminal justice system which is, in this matter, so much at odds with the wishes of the people, is damaging its own authority and credibility.” David Mackenzie of Trident Ploughshares
Commenting on the verdict, David Mackenzie of Trident Ploughshares said in a statement released by Scottish CND: “Those present in the court today felt that JP Symon gave the protesters a fair and respectful hearing but saw herself as having no option but to take account of the current legal tests for establishing a charge of breach of the peace.
“At the same time that charge is utterly absurd, given the completely peaceful actions of the protesters on the one hand and the palpable criminality of the UK's weapons of mass destruction on the other.
“An even bigger issue is that people in Scotland who engage in peaceful protests against nuclear weapons (which their elected representatives and Parliament overwhelmingly oppose) end up being punished by Scottish courts. That is intolerable.
“A criminal justice system which is, in this matter, so much at odds with the wishes of the people, is damaging its own authority and credibility.”
Picture courtesy of Scottish CND
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