Peace protesters vow to continue fight

PEACE campaigners have vowed to keep up their fight to hold American bases in the UK to account, following the first case of its kind in Suffolk.

Russell Claydon

PEACE campaigners have vowed to keep up their fight to hold American bases in the UK to account, following the first case of its kind in Suffolk.

It came as it was revealed during their four day trial at Ipswich Crown Court that RAF Lakenheath was storing cluster bombs at the time of the protesters' arrest on October 2, 2006.

Seven protestors who cut through a fence and chained themselves to a munitions compound at the Suffolk base were fined and given 12 month conditional discharges yesterday.

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The defendants, five women and two men, were found guilty of trespassing on a protected site and criminal damage in the first case of its kind to be tried in Suffolk - and only the second in the UK.

Mell Harrison, 37, of Dunburgh Road, Geldeston, near Beccles; Peter Lux, 46, of Hughenden Road, Norwich; Lesley Grahame, 49, of Hardy Road, Norwich; Lesley Anderson, 26, of Muckhart, Clackmannanshire, Scotland; Emma Bateman, 41, of South Wigston, Leicester; Irene Willis, 63, of Canvey Island, Essex; and Richie Rushmere, 40, of Old Lakenham, Norwich all denied trespassing on a protected site and criminal damage at RAF Lakenheath on October 2, 2006.

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

Speaking after the case, the group said they would continue to fight for more stringent laws to govern American bases on British soil after their claims were not officially investigated by police.

Mell Harrison, who is the eastern region co-ordinator for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: “We are going to carry on our campaign. We are committed to it.

“The problem with US bases in the UK is we do not seem to be able to do anything about what goes on there.”

They called for America to add its signature to a treaty to disarm themselves of cluster bombs, signed by Britain in Norway during the course of their trial on December 3.

District Judge Philip Browning said in giving his judgment he understood the group had held firm beliefs that cluster munitions being held on the base were to be used in the war in Iraq.

“I recognise the passionately held and sincere views of the defendants,” he said. “They tell me they have done everything they could have done within the law, but on this occasion, by taking the law into their own hands, they have, in my judgment, broken the law and so I find each of the defendants guilty of both charges they face.”

He said £250 worth of damage had been caused, without police costs, through their actions and a £1,000 court bill had been run up from 20 hearings.

He ordered each of the defendants to pay £250 fines and gave them each a 12 month conditional discharge, warning there would be consequences for them if they reoffended within the time period.

RAF Lakenheath was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

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