Peace protesters 'broke into airbase'

EIGHT peace protesters cut though the perimeter fence of a Suffolk airbase during an early morning raid and chained themselves to the fence of a weapons compound, it has been alleged.

Jane Hunt

EIGHT peace protesters cut though the perimeter fence of a Suffolk airbase during an early morning raid and chained themselves to the fence of a weapons compound, it has been alleged.

The protesters spent about three hours at RAF Lakenheath before being cut free by specialist cutting crews and arrested.

The six women - one of whom has since died of cancer - and two men were protesting about cluster bombs which they claim were stored at the USAF base.


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Mell Harrison, 37, of Dunburgh Road, Geldeston, near Beccles; Peter Lux, 46, of Hughendend Road, Norwich; Lesley Grahame, 49, of Hardy Road, Norwich; Lesley Anderson, 26, of Scotland; Emma Bateman, 41, of Leicester; and Richie Rushmere, 40, of Norwich, have all denied trespassing on a protected site and criminal damage at RAF Lakenheath on October 2, 2006.

Margaret Moss, 55, of Norwich, was also arrested on October 2 but has since died.

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The case would normally have been heard at a magistrates' court but because of the number of defendants it is being heard by a district judge at Ipswich Crown Court.

David Farmer, prosecuting, said that on the morning in question the defendants had cut a gap big enough for them to get through in the perimeter fence at RAF Lakenheath.

They had then gone to a gate on the exterior of a munitions compound and chained themselves to fencing.

“Police were called and they were removed from their position,” said Mr Farmer.

He said the defendants were seeking to argue that they were acting lawfully but he claimed that it was “untenable” for them to say that by damaging a fence in Suffolk they were preventing something happening in Iraq or Afghanistan or any other country.

He said that the protestors said their actions were justified morally and legally because they were aimed at preventing a greater evil, namely the war in Iraq and its consequences.

Sgt Alexander Hutchinson, of the Ministry of Defence Police, told the court that he had received a telephone call from Mell Harrison at about 8.10am on October 2 as he was on his way to work at RAF Mildenhall.

He said that Harrison told him she and her fellow protestors were at RAF Lakenheath and had evidence of weapons of mass destruction which they wanted him to investigate.

He said the protestors were freed by specialist cutting crews and were taken from the site at around 11am.

The trial, which is expected to last four days, continues today.

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