Resisting a re-visit

IssueDecember 2008 - January 2009
News by David Polden

On 7 November, I was due to appear, with others, at Newbury magistrates’ court for “obstruction of the highway” at Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment on 27 October.
First hearings are always just for “plea and directions”. It is only if you plead “guilty” that the case is dealt with at the first hearing. If you plead “not guilty”, the court adjourns hearing the case.
I wrote to the court asking for a plea of “not guilty” to be entered on my behalf. For the first time, this request was refused. The court, rather than issue warrants for arrest, set another date for the “plea and directions” hearing.
To punish defendants who wish to plead “not guilty” by putting them to the time and expense of attending court an extra time, merely in order to say “not guilty”, goes against the principle that we are innocent until proved guilty.
Also: we should not carry out orders unless they can be justified to our reason and conscience - the principle evoked at Nuremburg.
I have written to the court repeating my request for a “not guilty” plea to be entered on my behalf at the next hearing. I do not intend to attend.