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Quakers acquitted for Burghfield action
On 14 December, the trial of five Quaker protesters ended on its first day because the police sergeant who arrested the five failed to state in his testimony that he held a ‘reasonable belief’ that aggravated trespass had occurred. The judge stated there was no case to answer and acquitted the whole group.
Ellis Brooke, Hannah Brock, Gillian Lawrence, John Lynes, and Sam Donaldson had pleaded not guilty, and decided on a defence that their right to freedom of belief was enough grounds for their protest, and their belief that in doing so they were preventing greater crime, claiming that ‘nuclear weapons cannot ever be used legally’.
On 27 June last year, the five protested at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Burghfield as part of a day of Trident Ploughshares’ ‘No Faith in Trident’ actions. The five Quakers lay in the road in front of one of the gates of the factory, and were arrested and charged with ‘aggravated trespass’. Together the different affinity groups managed to block all entrances to the factory.
At the end of the day Ellis Brooke proclaimed of the collapse of the Quaker’s trial: ‘This was a personal relief but the need for action to end Britain’s WMD programme remains.’
The ‘Put Down the Sword’ Christian affinity group who were also arrested at Burghfield on 27 June were scheduled to go to trial as PN goes to press, 23–25 January.