Disarmament DiplomacyIssue No. 53, December 2000 - January 2001
UK Anti-Trident Protests
On December 18, Tommy Sheridan, a Member of the Scottish Parliament and leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, was jailed for 14 days after refusing to pay a fine for his part in an anti-nuclear demonstration at the Faslane naval base in February, 2000. Faslane is the home of Britain's Trident nuclear-weapons submarine force. Before beginning his sentence, Sheridan told reporters: "It is important to stand up for a nuclear-free Scotland. These weapons are not only inhumane, they are also illegal. It is time for politicians to stand up for change and although prison is unpleasant, sometimes it is necessary to take a stand on issues such as this one."
On January 18, two anti-Trident protesters were acquitted by a majority verdict at Manchester Crown Court of charges of conspiracy to cause criminal damage. The two protesters, Sylvia Boyes and River, admitting planning to cause damage to a Trident submarine, HMS Vengeance, while it was docked at the barrow-in-Furness shipyard in northern England in November, 1999. They denied that their plans were criminal, arguing that, on the contrary, British retention of nuclear weapons was illegal under international law. According to Gareth Peirce, lawyer for Ms. Boyes: "The jury has given the clearest possible decision legally, factually and morally, on the continued possession by Britain of weapons of mass destruction and, where governments fail us, of the necessity of direct action."
Reports: MSP jailed over anti-nuclear fine, BBC News Online, December 18; Trident protesters found not guilty, The Guardian, January 19; Disarmers not guilty, Trident Ploughshares Press Release, January 18.
© 2001 The Acronym Institute.