Carry on walking

IssueApril 2008
News by Dan Viesnik

On 7 March, I was at Newbury Magistrates' Court, Berkshire, putting Trident nuclear weapons on trial. I was charged with “obstruction of the highway'' for a peaceful sitdown protest outside the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston last July, during the 86-day, 900-mile Footprints for Peace walk from Dublin to London which I completed.

The court heard how I joined three walkers from the US - Liana and Aleta Johannaber from Georgia, and Bernie Meyer (aka “the American Gandhi”) from Olympia, Washington - in sitting down in the access road to Tadley Gate at Aldermaston. We were protesting against Trident and against the multi-billion pound upgrade to the warhead facilities currently taking place at Aldermaston.

My barrister, Felicity Williams from Doughty Street Chambers, and I argued that the Trident upgrade breaches the UK's obligation under Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”.

I was found guilty, and fined £50 plus £465 in court costs. I shall refuse to pay on principle, and intend to appeal against the conviction.