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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 51, October 2000

Review of UK Trident Ruling Opens

On October 9, the High Court in Edinburgh began a legal review of the acquittal of three anti-nuclear protesters in October 1999. The protesters - Ellen Moxley, Ulla Roder and Angie Zelter - were acquitted at Greenock Sheriff Court of charges of causing criminal damage to a nuclear laboratory forming part of the British Trident nuclear system. Sheriff Margaret Gimblett based her decision on the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which, the defendants argued, rendered UK possession of nuclear weapons illegal. The High Court review cannot reverse the ruling, but can decide that Sheriff Gimblett' decision was inappropriate. Sheriff Gimblett has submitted a 138-page report to the High Court, reportedly acknowledging that there may have been flaws in her ruling.

After five days of opening arguments and discussion, the review was adjourned until November 14. The proceedings thus far have revolved around interpretations of the ICJ opinion, which has been interpreted by the British government not to outlaw the possession of nuclear weapons but only their use in circumstances other than a threat to national survival.

Reports: Trident-three ruling '', The Scotsman, October 9; Historic nuclear weapons case adjourned, Trident Ploughshares 2000 Press Release, October 13.

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.