Concerned citizens aquitted after closing Devonport Dockyard main gate

8 September, 2015

Today, on the 8th September 2015, Nikki Clarke and Theo Simon appeared in Plymouth Magistrates Court, charged with aggravated trespass, a charge arising from their actions of July last year, in which they used their bodies, on the road, linked together through a car, to close the road. They undertook this action to prevent workers from extending the life of HMS Vengeance – an integral part of the Trident weapon of mass destruction system.


Nikki and Theo were able to lay before the court some detailed argument on the unlawfulness of the Trident system work they acted to prevent. The court, the press, and Theo and Nikki’s supporters were able to hear evidence as outlined by Theo on his blog earlier this year (see below):

Theo and Nikki were acquitted, and awarded costs.


They were acquitted on the basis that the definition for aggravated trespass to have taken place, excludes highways and roads, except in specific circumstances, which did not apply in this case. There was delight, and a feeling of justice amongst supporters after the verdict, mingled with a disappointment that the central issue of the unlawfulness of work on the Trident WMD system was not addressed.


In this case, it was possible for citizens to act directly, responsibly and lawfully to prevent work on the Trident WMD system.


From Theo’s Blog 6/9/2015:

In July last year, me and Nikki Clarke from Bridgwater were arrested for blocking the gate of Devonport Docks, where the Trident nuclear weapons fleet is serviced. This was part of our long-running commitment to raise awareness about the proposed Trident renewal and to challenge it’s legality through peaceful protest. There is due to be a one or two day trial this week at Plymouth Magistrates Court on Tuesday Sept 8th.

Now is a good time to show our collective opposition to spending more money on renewing Britain’s WMD – opposition shared by millions of people including MPs from the Green Party, SNP, Plaid, and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Leadership campaign.  If you would like to support us inside or outside the court, we start at 10.00am and will be there all day.

The government’s position is that we were breaking the law, by disrupting “lawful work” on the HMS Vengeance submarine. Our position is that it is the government who are breaking an international treaty by upgrading Britain’s nuclear arsenal, and that work on maintaining a nuclear weapons systems is itself unlawful. Myself and Nikki Clarke are charged with “Aggravated Trespass” and it all hinges on whether work on the Trident WMD can be described as “lawful”.

At our trial two expert witnesses will testify on international humanitarian law, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the threat that holding nuclear weapons poses to our security and safety in the southwest. Because it is an indiscriminate “Weapon of Mass destruction”, the Trident warheads could never be fired without committing a crime against humanity, including the Geneva Conventions, as set out by the International Court of Justice.

This is because:

  1.  They would indiscriminately kill thousands of civilians even if used against military targets;
  2.   They cause unnecessary suffering , including long-term radiation damage to people and environment;
  3.  The fallout of their use would also effect populations in countries not involved in the conflict.
  4. Military retaliation against civilian populations is unlawful

Britain’s possession of Trident, and the intention to upgrade the weapons system, puts us in serious breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in which we have promised to proceed “in good faith” towards nuclear disarmament.  The fact that the British State has now said that it might be prepared to fire nuclear weapons “to defend UK interests” in general, to target non-nuclear weapons states, or as part of a first-strike tactic, all expand the grounds for our possible use of Trident beyond mere “nuclear deterrence”.  This tells non-nuclear states that we are more likely rather than less to use them in future.  This in turn undermines the NNP Treaty, which promised active moves by nuclear states towards disarmament in exchange for other states foregoing the right to acquire their own nuclear arms.

This makes it all the more outrageous that major English political parties are prepared to commit between 75 and 100 billion of public money to the renewal of Trident missiles, while there is allegedly not enough money to pay our nurses a fair wage, upgrade our flood defences or keep our public services running.

I am proud of the stand I have taken over Trident – the planned expenditure is a public scandal and the open flouting of our commitment to international law makes the world a more dangerous place for our children. I have every hope of proving my case in court, but if the District Judge still finds against me, the penalty will be a fine of up to £2,500.

My neighbour Michael Eavis, award winning farmer and Glastonbury Festival host, has very kindly offered to help with expenses arising from my case if I am found guilty, as he strongly agrees with me that Britain’s Trident WMD should be scrapped, and the money should be spent instead on maintaining and upgrading the essential public services we all need.


This article: Stephen Tame 8/9/15

YES to Scotland NO to Trident!

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