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Monday, 26 November, 2001, 15:21 GMT
MEP fined over nuclear base protest
Police cordon at Faslane
Police attempt to keep protesters away from the gate
A Euro MP who was arrested at an anti-nuclear demonstration at a Scottish submarine base has been fined 150 for breach of the peace.

Dr Caroline Lucas, Green MEP for the South East of England, was among almost 400 people arrested at the Clyde Naval Base at Faslane in Argyll on 12 February.

She was found guilty of obstructing the roadway and blocking the flow of traffic at the entrance to the base, home to Britain's fleet of Trident nuclear submarines.

Lucas, 40, who lives in Oxford, pleaded not guilty to the charge, claiming it violated her right to free expression and peaceful demonstration as set out in the Human Rights Act.

Caroline Lucas: Breach of the peace
Caroline Lucas: Breach of the peace
The demonstration, organised by anti-nuclear groups Trident Ploughshares and CND, attracted about 1,000 demonstrators.

A number of protesters formed a human chain at the north gate entrance to the base and they were cheered on by crowds on either side of the main gate who waved banners of support.

Following a two-and-a-half hour trial at Argyll and Bute District Court in Helensburgh, Lucas was found guilty by JP John McPhail and ordered to pay a fine of 150 within 28 days.

Lucas told the court she intended to appeal against the verdict.

Faslane is home to the four-strong Trident submarine fleet.

International law

Each vessel has 16 missile tubes and the weapons are said to be accurate to within 100 yards.

PC Kevin Kelly told the court Lucas was arrested after she sat down in the road with other protesters and refused to get up.

When arrested and charged with breach of the peace, Lucas replied: "I was defending international law and my act was an act of legality in upholding the law."

Cross-examined by Lucas, who defended herself, PC Kelly admitted he could see no traffic near the area where the protest was going on.

However, his colleague PC Mark Dickson insisted when questioned by Lucas that at least a dozen vehicles were queuing at the roundabout near the North Gate to the base, where Lucas was sitting.

"I have long held a genuine belief that nuclear weapons pose an unacceptable threat to society.

Dr Caroline Lucas
Giving evidence in her defence, Lucas argued that sitting in the road did not amount to a breach of the peace and claimed she had a right under the Human Rights Act to stage a peaceful protest in support of her strongly held beliefs on nuclear weapons.

She also said weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear missiles and Trident submarines, were illegal under "customary international law".

She said: "I have long held a genuine belief that nuclear weapons pose an unacceptable threat to society. They are weapons of mass destruction which, if used, would cause the indiscriminate loss of millions of lives.

"I believe they are a breach of international law and that their very existence constitutes a breach of world peace."

See also:

22 Oct 01 | Scotland
Faslane protest sparks 170 arrests
08 Oct 01 | Scotland
MSP cleared of protest charge
12 Feb 01 | Scotland
Fourth Trident ready for service
12 Feb 01 | Scotland
Trident protest in pictures
22 Dec 00 | Scotland
Jailed MSP unrepentant
14 Feb 00 | Scotland
150 held in Trident protest
10 Dec 00 | Scotland
Marines to guard Trident base
09 Oct 00 | Scotland
Trident 'legal' says Crown
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