29 December 2016
Wandsworth Greens went to Reading on 14th December to support local party member Ellis Brooks who was standing trial for blockading the Atomics Weapons Establishment in Burghfield this summer. Also on trial with Ellis were Hannah Brock, John Lynes, Sam Donaldson and Gillian Lawrence all charged with “aggravated trespass” for lying in the road outside one of the gates at the nuclear bomb factory. The “No Faith in Trident” action, which took place on 27th June 2016 was organised by the nonviolent protest group, Trident Ploughshares.
“This wasn't a Green Party action” said Ellis “but Party policy states that 'real security cannot be based upon a balance of nuclear terror, nor upon a global domination by a group of states operating largely from self-interest' so I felt my personal and political beliefs in alignment.”
The group of protesters had pleaded not guilty, and prepared a defence premised on two arguments: that their right to freedom of belief was grounds for legitimate protest in the tradition of conscientious objection and that they were preventing a greater crime. Ellis explained “We had expert evidence to that effect - that if Theresa May carried out her threat to kill over 100 thousand people, it would be a war crime, indeed that nuclear weapons cannot ever be used legally.”
In the event, the case fell on the first day, not because of these arguments but because a police sergeant had failed to state in his testimony that he held the 'reasonable belief' that aggravated trespass was happening. In that light the judge stated there was no case to answer and the group was unexpectedly acquitted.
“This was a personal relief,” said Ellis “but the need for action remains to end Britain's WMD programme remains. There are two things I'd like you to do after reading this. One is to write to the Foreign Secretary telling him to actively support the nuclear weapon ban, which 123 countries already support. The other is to support our fellow activists from 'Put Down the Sword', who face a similar trial in January. More info here.
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