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Heavy Fines for Edinburgh “Submariners”

Trident Ploughshares - Press Release: 10 anti-Trident activists were each fined a total of £300 for being the crew of a large model nuclear weapon s ubmarine which blocked the street outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on March 10th. The ten were accused under the Roads (Scotland) Act with placing an obstruction in the roadway without reasonable excuse and also of obstructing police officers who attempted to remove it. They made individual legal submissions but put forward a common defence. They argued that the reason for their action (the urgent need to bring the reality of the threat from an illegal nuclear weapon system to the Scottish Parliament) and the care and consideration with which they had acted, added up to a reasonable excuse. On the second charge they argued that it depended on the first and further, that it was inappropriate to bring two charges against them for the same action. In her submission Sarah Whiteside said: “The advent of this nuclear age is a good example of a challenge to which the legal system must respond and in order for democracy and its mechanisms to function, there must be effective avenues for ordinary people to influence this response.” Sheriff Noel McPartlin rejected their defences to both charges, fining them £50 on the first and £250 on the second, claiming that the matter became more serious at the point when they refused to comply with police requirements to move. He conceded that the accused had acted in a civilised manner and had conducted themselves well in court. The ten told the Sheriff that they would not pay the fines. A supporter in court said: “It is more than disappointing that we are still waiting for the penny to drop in the Scottish courts over Britain’s weapons of mass destruction. The judges who deal with Trident related cases seem to have no real live conception of what a nuclear weapon is. Like so many before him Sheriff McPartlan has characterised as unreasonable those who do know and feel compelled to act. We are now considering what the next step will be in our effort to get the courts to respond to the Trident crime.” The ten protesters are: Sarah Whiteside (from Fife); Emma Bateman (Leicester); Brian Quail (Glasgow); Adam Conway (Southampton); Jane Smith (Grantown-on-Spey); Jane Tallents (Helensburgh): Angie Zelter (Norfolk); Rosie Kane (Glasgow); Peter Lux (Norwich); Janet Fenton (Edinburgh).