road protests 1999   |   road protests (current)   |   movement links

Date: Sat, 27 Nov 1999 00:28:22 GMT
From: "SchNEWS" (
Subject: SchNEWS 234, Friday 29th October 1999

Trident declared unlawful

"Nuclear weapons have always been perceived as unlawful. Although the defence policy is official, it is not legal. For the last 50 years, the British government and judiciary have refused to look at the legal facts. They have basically said if it is official, it must be lawful."

Angie Zelter

What with the Filthy French and their dirty beef in the press this week, you might, as we did, have missed a little trifle in the news: Britain's Nukes are Illegal! Last Wednesday in Greenock, Scotland, three anti-nuke Ploughshares 2000 women, Angie Zelter, Ellen Moxley and Ulla Roder, were acquitted of malicious damage and of nicking a life raft, after Sherriff Margarett Gimblett ruled that under international law they were right to 'disarm' the research barge 'Maytime' in June this year.

Expert witness Francis Boyle, a top Prof. of International Law, convinced the judge that simply possessing Trident made a nation guilty of 'threatening genocide' - an act forbidden by international conventions, such as the Nuremburg Principles (drawn up in the wake of the holocaust) and an International Court of Justice ruling in 1996, which declared all nukes illegal. According to the judge the three were therefore not committing a crime but were acting to prevent crimes taking place - and after a four and a half week trial she directed the jury that under Scottish law they should be acquitted.

"I have the highest respect for these CND women, but I myself am not a CND supporter: I am totally apolitical I am rather worried about my job after this. I certainly won't be expecting a mention in the Queen's Honours list." Sheriff Margaret Gimblett.

On June 8th, the women set off in a leaky dinghy and boarded the 'Maytime', part of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) at Faslane Naval Base, Argyll. Armed only with a hammer and screwdriver, they started to chuck computers and lab equipment overboard and expected to have about ten minutes before getting nicked. They ended up being in there for three and a half hours - and had time for a picnic before the MOD Plod arrived!

"The police pretended not to be embarrassed, but I'm sure they must have been" Ellen Moxley.

In court, Bargemaster Iain 'I ain't been nobbled, honest' McPhee was pressed by Advocate John Mayer to explain the function of the barge and its links with the Trident submarines. McPhee was so hesitant and evasive a witness that Mayer stated: "This is not cross-examination, this is dentistry."

Eventually McPhee admitted that the barge conducted important acoustic research for the MOD, that the research related to the operation of Trident submarines, and that the action of the women had had some effect on the ability of the research station to proceed with its work. Nice one!

It's a double whammy for Angie- she was one of four Ploughshares activists acquitted two years ago after trashing British-built 'Hawk' planes bound for Indonesia, where they would have been used, as the court agreed, in genocide against East Timor (see SchNEWS 84).

Naturally, the State is not happy with such conclusions and will be launching an appeal about the Maytime case. This won't affect the women, but it could affect any other 'have-a-go-heroes' foolish enough to try to stop the annihilation of millions. After all, as Shadow Conservative Defence Secretary Iain Duncan Smith points out -

"The judgement is quite absurd. What these women have done is immensely dangerous. In damaging our nuclear deterrent, they do nothing but help other regimes who have the intention of harming the citizens of the UK."

Like the bloody Frogs and their mucky beef, eh Iain? Get yer finger on that button!!

Trident Ploughshares 2000
41-48 Bethal St., Norwich, Norfolk, NR2 1NR
Tel 01603 611953

Scottish CND website (Especially useful on Trident)

The latest edition of the Ecologist is devoted entirely to the nuclear industry. #3.
Tel 0171 351 3578

Aldermaston Womens' Peace Campaign have repeated their call for the Atomic Weapons Establishment - which builds Trident warheads- to be closed down after the Greenock judgement and revelations about appalling safety levels. Apparently it's been 'perilously close' to disaster in the past few months.

There's a peace camp outside Aldermaston 12-14 November
Tel 01222 396563


The UK spends £4 million a day on nuclear weapons

road protests 1999   |   road protests (current)   |   movement links