London priest is jailed after anti-war protest

By staff writers
September 23, 2008

A Catholic priest who lives and ministers in London began a short prison sentence last week, after he refused to pay a fine following a peace protest which was ruled to have broken public order restrictions.

Fr Martin Newell, who is a member of the London Catholic Worker, a radical Christian community action group that works for justice and peace, was sentenced to prison at Highbury and Islington Magistrates Court.

On 28 December 2007, Catholic Worker supporters Scott Albrecht, Sr Susan Clarkson and Fr Newell poured red paint on the sign at Northwood Military Headquarters.

The three knelt in prayer with banners reading: 'We All Have Blood On Our Hands' and "War Shall Cease All Over The Earth". They were arrested, placed in jail and charged with £315 worth of criminal damage.

When called back to court for refusing to pay his fine, Fr Newell said that he was acting according to his conscience and that he hoped the judge would act according to his.

Fr Martin told the court that the war on Iraq was illegal.

The judge said his position was a moral one, but he said: "the law must be upheld despite belief".

Fr Newell refused to accept the court's fine, arguing that he had acted in faith for the greater good of humanity, and he was therefore jailed.

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