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Activists given a slap on the wrist

Trio that blocked Trident base admonished by judges

THREE peace campaigners jailed after a peaceful protest against nuclear weapons in Scotland have been found guilty of an alleged breach of the peace and “admonished” — the lightest sentence Scottish courts can give.

However, campaigners criticised the charges as “absurd” yesterday and said that any sentence against peaceful protesters was “intolerable.”

Angie Zelter, 66, from Knighton in Wales, Brian Quail, 79, a retired teacher from Glasgow, and Sam Donaldson from Hull were among a group of protesters arrested on July 13, during a demonstration at Royal Naval Armaments Depot Coulport, a nuclear warhead storage base at Loch Long in Argyll.

The three were detained after chaining themselves together and blocking the entrance to the base.

In court in Dumbarton, they were told that they would be bailed on the condition that they stay away from the two bases. They refused, insisting that peaceful protest was their right.

They were jailed by the court and remained there for 16 days before another court released them.

On Thursday, they were back in the Dumbarton court to face charges of breach of the peace.

All three argued that Trident was a far bigger crime than protesting against it.

Justice of the Peace Alison Symon found all three guilty but merely gave them an admonishment.

Ms Zelter told the court she intended to continue her involvement in disruptive protests at the base until Trident was removed. Mr Quail refused to accept the guilty verdict.

The three are supporters of the Trident Ploughshares campaign.

David Mackenzie of Trident Ploughshares said: “Those present in the court today felt that JP Symon gave the protesters a fair and respectful hearing but saw herself as having no option but to take account of the current legal tests for establishing a charge of breach of the peace.

“At the same time, that charge is utterly absurd, given the completely peaceful actions of the protesters on the one hand and the palpable criminality of the UK’s weapons of mass destruction on the other.”

He said the Scottish people and their government opposed Trident, adding that any punishment of peaceful protesters was “intolerable.”

Mr Quail praised Ms Symon for the leniency of his sentence.

“My initial reaction was relief,” he said. “She found us guilty but admonished us and that got a warm round of applause from the court — and myself.

“The magistrate was clearly taking into account what we said. It was a heroic decision on her part.”


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