Aldermaston Big Blockaders put on trial

IssueNovember 2009
News by Dan Viesnik

Five anti-nuclear activists who peacefully blocked access to the atomic weapons establishment (AWE) Aldermaston last autumn were tried before Reading magistrates’ court on 21 and 22 October.

The defendants, Barbara Dowling, from Glasgow; Jean Oliver, from Lanarkshire; David Polden, from London; Emma Sangster, also from London (all self-represented); and Renate Zauner from Switzerland (represented by Prof. Nicholas Grief) were charged with “wilfully obstructing the highway”.

They were among 33 people arrested during the “Big Blockade” on 27 October 2008. The court heard how, by blocking the access road to the Tadley Gate entrance to the base, linking their arms in rigid plastic tubes, in one case inside a large teddy bear, the defendants believed they were acting to uphold international law, fulfil their moral duty to stop the development, deployment and use of indiscriminate nuclear weapons, and thus prevent war crimes.

The first defendant, Barbara Dowling was sentenced on 21 October after changing her plea to guilty. She was sentenced to an 18-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £85 in costs. The remaining four defendants, all of whom pleaded not guilty, will be judged on 12 November.