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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Labour MP fined over Faslane demo
George Galloway, right, and MSP Tommy Sheridan are arrested
George Galloway, right, was among hundreds arrested
A Labour MP has been fined for his part in a protest at the Faslane naval base on the Clyde.

George Galloway was ordered to pay 180 after being found guilty of committing a breach of the peace outside the home of the UK's Trident nuclear submarine fleet.

But the 47-year-old has promised to continue his campaign against nuclear weapons despite his conviction.


I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that a crime has to be something rather more than an inconvenience

George Galloway
"It's very wounding to be told that I have a criminal record, but I will continue to act in accordance with my conscience - which at the end of the day is the most important judge of one's actions," he said.

Galloway, who represents Glasgow Kelvin, conducted his own defence at Argyll and Bute District Court in Helensburgh.

The court heard that he was one of several protesters arrested after being warned for sitting on the road in front of Faslane's north gate on 12 February last year.

Constable Alan Sneddon, 31, said four police officers carried Galloway away when he refused to move.

When charged, he replied: "Nuclear weapons are illegal and it is a civic duty of every citizen to do what they can to disrupt illegal behaviour and try to stop it."

'Civilised encounter'

Galloway said Defence Minister Lewis Moonie had described the protest as "an inconvenience".

"I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that a crime has to be something rather more than an inconvenience," said the MP.

"It seems to me that a civilised encounter between demonstrators and policemen which ends with the inconvenience being cleared, is really a small price to pay for living in a free and democratic country.

Faslane sign
Faslane is home to the Trident submarines
"I have the sometimes dubious pleasure of visiting countries where such freedoms don't exist and where people have died for the opportunity of such a civilised relationship between demonstrators and the state."

However, Galloway was found guilty after an hour-long trial.

Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan was also among almost 380 people arrested during the 2001 protest.

He also denied committing a breach of the peace - and was cleared of the charge last October after mounting his own defence at the district court.

The MSP was also cleared last month on charges relating to a further protest at Faslane last October.

Law in 'disarray'

Speaking after the court hearing, Galloway argued that Mr Sheridan's case had been identical to his - and claimed that the case should never have come to court.

"I think the law of breach of the peace is somewhat in disarray in these parts," he said.

"Carrying demonstrators away and keeping them for a few hours in Greenock jail is more than enough.

"There is no need to prosecute hundreds of people. I believe it damages the state and the system, as I tried to argue in court."

See also:

25 Jun 02 | Scotland
22 Oct 01 | Scotland
08 Oct 01 | Scotland
20 Sep 01 | Scotland
Links to more Scotland stories are at the foot of the page.


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