Aldermaston Blockade Four "not guilty"

IssueDecember 2009 - January 2010
News by David Polden

On 12 November, four of us who “locked-on” across a gate at the Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston, during the Big Blockade on 27 October last year were cleared by Reading court of obstructing the highway and awarded costs.

We were: Jean Oliver from Scotland, Emma Sangster and myself from London, who defended ourselves; and Renate Zauner from Switzerland, represented by professor Nick Grief.

The “not guilty” verdict was on a technicality – the prosecution failed to prove that the roadway we had obstructed was part of the public highway – even though the evidence showed two of us lying on the A340!

But much more importantly, the judge allowed arguments based on international and domestic law. We argued that the activities we were trying to obstruct at Aldermaston were illegal.

We also argued that the prosecution had produced insufficient reason to justify infringing our rights under the European convention on human rights (to freedom of expression and assembly) by stopping the blockade.

The judge’s 28-page judgement rejected all these arguments, but at least they were given full consideration.