Back in October
last year, I was arrested inside USAF Lakenheath
. After several months of court appearances, pre-trials and reviews, the trial has just ended.
We went in to perform a weapons inspection and get full proof of the B61 nuclear weapons held on the base, to start the process of their removal from British soil.
Although the threat and use of nuclear weapons breaks a whole book full of major laws, under section 47 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, keeping, transferring, or preparing a nuclear weapon in Britain is illegal without a licence. We're still waiting to see that piece of paper from the Base Commander.
There is no denial that there are US nukes in Britain (I've even had a letter from the Minister for the Armed Forces confirming this) and there is documentary evidence from the US Air Force that the only storage systems for the B61 freefall bombs in England are at Lakenheath. Add these two simple facts together, and it seems that yes indeed there are nuclear bombs held at Lakenheath in Suffolk. While the prosecutor insisted that we already had enough proof and thus had no reason to enter the base, the Judge told us that we had no proof at all and thus had no reason to enter the base. These two should compare notes and get the story straight.
We were accused of being unrealistic in our attempts, and asked how could we find anything at all, did we really think bombs were left lying around? Activists in the past have managed to get onto (and redecorate) nuclear submarines, decommission fighter planes, and find bomb loading and transporting equipment and make it unusable. Other campaigners, after spending rather productive hours inside military facilities, have had to go looking for people to arrest them. Armed with knowledge, cameras, notebooks, measuring kit (and buckets of flour to make us look entirely harmless and not worthy of shooting) I still don't think it is unrealistic that we could have got that proof if we had made it further into the base before being stopped. We were trying to get into the right area of the base, the "restricted area" that even the police are not allowed to access without special permission.
We never denied cutting the fence, but this was only so we could get in and prevent much greater crimes. In terms of criminal damage, the effects of a pair of bolt cutters and 30 nuclear weapons couldn't be more different.
We were, however, found guilty of criminal damage. Compared to similar actions, and related trials, our sentence was very harsh--three years conditional discharge and 500 pounds each. Our lawyers believe that the judge may have misdirected himself on several points of law, and are looking into the possibility of an appeal, but we'll need to raise a contingency fund of several thousand pounds to go ahead with this.
Although we were found guilty, I am extremely proud of what we tried to do, and plan to keep on trying.