1 October 2021News

Case dismissed as 'no case to answer'

On 16 September, two Faslane Peace Campers had the case against them thrown out of Dunbarton justice of the peace court. One of them had spent nearly six weeks in prison on remand, waiting for the trial.

Willemien Hoogendoorn and Jon had been arrested for ‘breach of the peace’ on Hiroshima Day, 6 August, after blockading the North Gate of Faslane nuclear submarine base from 6.30am till around 12 noon.

According to the Helensburgh Advertiser, ‘tailbacks were reported in…

1 October 2021News

Paralympian jailed for airport action

On 24 September, Paralympic gold medallist James Brown, 56, was sentenced to 12 months in prison for an Extinction Rebellion (XR) action at London City Airport during XR’s October 2019 ‘Rebellion’.

This first custodial sentence for an XR action was imposed for the offence of causing ‘a public nuisance’.

Alanna Byrne, of Extinction Rebellion UK, said: ‘We are shocked and devastated by this news.’

Human rights activist Peter Tatchell tweeted: ‘It’s an excessively harsh…

1 October 2021News

US whistleblower gets 45 month sentence

On 27 July, former US air force intelligence analyst Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months in prison by a court in Virginia, USA.

Hale, 33, had plead guilty to violating the Espionage Act by sharing government documents relating to targeted drone killings and other abuses in the ‘war on terror’.

Hale spoke in court before sentencing, saying: ‘I believe that it is wrong to kill, but it is especially wrong to kill the defenceless.’ He said he shared what ‘was necessary to dispel…

8 December 2020News

Extradition hearing to take place on 24 February

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s full extradition hearing is scheduled for 24 February at Woolwich crown court in South London.

The investigative journalist was arrested at the Ecuadorean embassy last April, having spent seven years there after claiming asylum to avoid possible extradition to the US via Sweden.

Sexual assault charges Julian was facing in Sweden have since been dropped, but he has been kept in Belmarsh high security prison because of an extradition request…

1 December 2019Feature

The trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7

Sketch of Mark Colville during the Kingsbay Plowshares 7 trial. Drawing: Dan Burgevin

‘You are the hope you have arrived to find.’

So ended a brief message that father Steve Kelly wrote from jail last month to be read to more than 100 friends and supporters on the eve of the trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 in coastal Brunswick, Georgia, USA.

The 70-year-old Jesuit knows something about sustaining hope in hard places. This time, he’s already been in jail for…

1 June 2019News

'Farcical' prosecution of ant-nuke campaigners

Eight Trident Ploughshares campaigners were on trial at Reading magistrates court on 23 April for blocking access to Burghfield Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire on 24 October 2018. Welsh activists Awel Irene (second from left), Jan Jones (second from right, front) and Brian Jones (second from right, back) labelled the prosecution ‘farcical’ after charges of ‘aggravated trespass’ were added to the original ‘obstruction of the public highway’ charges. This charged four of the…

1 April 2019News

Sentencing prompts counter-trial and direct action

On 6 February, the 15 anti-deportation activists known as the ‘Stansted 15’ were sentenced for nonviolently stopping a deportation flight carrying 60 people to West Africa in March 2017. They had already launched an appeal against their convictions on 7 January, but this has yet to be heard. Their sentencing sparked a counter-trial and direct action in London.

Melanie Strickland (35), Ali Tamlit (30) and Eddie Thacker (29) were given nine-month prison sentences, suspended for 18…

1 December 2017Feature

‘Not guilty’ verdicts for Ploughshares activists Sam Walton and Dan Woodhouse

Dan Woodhouse and Sam Walton (centre) with supporters outside Burnley magistrates court after the verdict on 26 October. Photo: Andrea Needham

On 26 October, Burnley magistrates court acquitted Ploughshares activists Sam Walton and Dan Woodhouse of criminal damage after they admitted breaking into a BAE Systems plant to use household hammers on military jets.

Poor old British Aerospace. Not only were the first group of people to break in to their Warton site in…

29 October 2017Blog entry

Andrea Needham reports on the recent trial of Sam Walton and Dan Woodhouse in Burnley


Poor old British Aerospace. Not only were the first group of people to break in to their Warton site in Lancashire to disarm a warplane acquitted, now the second lot have also been found not guilty. It's curious how difficult it appears to be to convict people for acting peacefully to prevent war crimes.

The first such disarmament action took place in January 1996, when a group of women (myself included) broke in and disarmed a Hawk warplane being sold to Indonesia for use in…

1 June 2017News

'tis the season for activists to appear in court

Lots of high-profile direct action cases have court dates coming up.

DSEI appeal

On 13 June, the high court in London will review the acquittal of eight anti-arms fair activists – Isa Al-Aali (Bahrain), Bram Vranken (Belgium), Luis Tinoco Torrejon (Peru), and Lisa Butler, Angela Ditchfield, Thomas Franklin, Susannah Mengesha (UK) – by Stratford magistrates court in April 2016.
The high court’s decision is likely to affect peace activists’ ability to use the legal defence…

1 June 2016News

Judge says 'clear, credible' evidence of 'criminal wrongdoing' at past arms fairs

On 15 April, eight people from Bahrain, Belgium, Chile, Peru and the UK were acquitted at Stratford magistrates’ court of obstructing the highway during the defence & security equipment international (DSEI) arms fair held in East London last September.

The defendants were: Isa Al-Aali from Bahrain; Bram Vranken from Belgium; Javier Garate Neidhart from Chile; Luis Tinoco Torrejon from Peru; and Angela Ditchfield, Lisa Butler, Thomas Franklin and Susannah Mengesha from the UK.…

1 February 2016News

He fought the law ...

I was charged with assaulting police officer in the execution of his duty on 12 September in the run-up to the DSEI arms fair in East London.

The officer had grabbed me without warning when I was climbing a pillar to reinforce a banner which I had stuck up there a little earlier, and I had swung my arm out to try and make him let of me. The gaffer tape in my hand had hit his face.

There were two lines of defence: firstly, that the police officer was not acting in the…

3 April 2014News

Judge Crabtree warned us that while judgements in magistrates’ courts usually take between 45 minutes and two hours, this one was likely to take considerably longer. He was right; his judgement took three-and-a-half hours. But it was a judgement worth waiting for.

Six activists were being prosecuted for ‘aggravated trespass’ for occupying trees along the route of the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road in January 2013 (see PN 2554, 2566).

The first two hours or so of the hearing in…

18 March 2014News in Brief

There have been anti-arms trade legal victories connected to protests at the defence & security equipment international (DSEI) arms fair last September. On 4 February, five Christian protesters (Chloe Skinner, Christopher Wood, Daniel Woodhouse, James Clayton and Symon Hill) were acquitted of aggravated trespass. On 18 February, charges were dropped against six other activists. During Balcombe-related anti-fracking trials at Brighton magistrates’ court at the end of January, Aaron Bell was…

18 February 2014Feature

Prosecution suffers numerous defeats in Combe Haven trials

Grannies Are In Action (GAIA) set up a ‘car wash’ in the
floodwaters of Combe Haven, East Sussex, on 12 January.
Photo: Marta Lefler

Over half the charges against Combe Haven Defenders (CHD) anti-roads protesters have been dropped or abandoned, or have resulted in not guilty verdicts, in the four trials so far concluded. At the time of going to press two trials were still underway, continuing into early February.

CHD, an East Sussex anti…