Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

Sub Sab Verdict Fab

Anti-nuclear weapon activists win another astonishing legal precedent

28th September 2000

Two activists who destroyed nuclear equipment and grafityed anti-nuclear weapons slogans on the side of a nuclear submarine have achieved a significant court victory.

Rachel Williams (28) and Rosie James (25) from the activist group Trident Ploughshares 2000 (TP 2000) swam 150 metres in wetsuits to reach a nuclear submarine moored at Barrow in Furness last February. Using a lump hammer they then smashed equipment on the submarine's conning tower before spraying "death machine" and "illegal" onto the side of the sub. In accordance with TP 2000's open accountability policy they then waited to be arrested. In their trial at Manchester Crown Court which began on September 11 and concluded on September 20, the pair argued that their small crimes were justifiable because they were aimed at presenting a greater crime and that Britain's nuclear arsenal was now illegal under international law. They fully admitted all their actions to the court.

In response to this defence, the jury found them not guilty of criminal damage in spraying the submarine and failed to achieve a majority verdict on whether they were guilty of criminal damage in smashing up equipment on the sub's conning tower.

The latest verdict was welcomed by Trident Ploughshares as the latest in a series of court victories using the defence of action to prevent greater crimes. A spokeswoman from the group said that the juries decision "shows that instinctive morality is alive and well."

The Crown Prosecution Service have retired to lick their legal wounds and decide whether to push for a retrial.

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