Three Christian peace protesters were convicted yesterday (21 June) at Newbury Magistrates Court of Criminal Trespass under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA), and Criminal Damage.
The convictions follow a protest at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in September 2010 organised by the Catholic Worker movement.
The three, Susan Clarkson (64), Chris Cole (47) both from Oxford, and Fr Martin Newell (42) from London were conditionally discharged for 18 months and ordered to pay £553 each costs and compensation.
The three had created a gateway in the outer fence of AWE Aldermaston and attached a sign say ‘Open for Disarmament: All Welcome.” In their evidence the protestors described the massive development currently being undertaken at AWE Aldermaston and argued that the developments were in contravention of both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Countering the prosecution argument that ‘crimes of aggression’ are not crimes within domestic law, the defendants argued that “It is of course morally, ethically and legally wrong to plan for mass murder by nuclear war by develop[ing], testing, building, and deploying nuclear weapons. That is a crime as any sane and reasonable person could judge”.
Chris Cole said: “The three of us went to AWE Aldermaston to say as clearly as we could that nuclear weapons – mass violence – will neither bring peace, nor security. Rather our security, our peace, and our salvation lies in loving our enemy and working for the common good.”
The convictions come as the 'Global Zero' summit takes place in London (21st-23rd June) which campaigners say indicates increasing demand from political, military and cultural leaders - for urgent action to achieve global nuclear disarmament.
The Summit brings together over 100 leading members of Global Zero to discuss and debate with senior officials from several governments. They will undertake intensive policy discussions on how all nuclear weapons states may be brought to the table to negotiate multilateral nuclear arms reductions. They will also consider the strategy needed to build public and political support for this agenda.
Chris Cole’s full court statement is available at: http://www.chrisco1e.wordpress.com