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no charges brought against big ben anti war activists

louise edge | 02.04.2004 11:53 | Anti-militarism | London

no charges pressed against big ben anti war demonstrators

No charges brought against Big Ben anti war activists.

For immediate release 2nd April, 2004.

It was announced this morning that no charges will be brought against Greenpeace climbers Harry and Simon Westaway for climbing Big Ben. The brothers climbed Big Ben on the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and unfurled banners stating ‘Time for the Truth’. (1)

A Greenpeace spokesperson said, “We are very happy that no charges are being brought against Harry and Simon for their peaceful anti-war protest at Big Ben. They climbed Big Ben to express their strongly held belief that the war against Iraq was wrong and illegal”.

They continued, “The time was chosen as it was the anniversary of the war, and the location because this was where Tony Blair lied to Parliament over the legality of the war, the real motivation behind it, and the intelligence used to support those arguments. The action put no-one at risk and caused no damage. It fits with the British tradition of taking non-violent direct action to express strongly held beliefs”.

Harry Westaway said, “We climbed Big Ben to urge Tony Blair to come clean about why he went to war against Iraq. It clearly wasn’t because of WMD, as none have been found. It clearly went against the will of the United Nations and was illegal under international law. It has only increased the threat to Britain from international terrorism. Finally it was clearly without the support of the UK public who came out in unprecedented numbers to urge him not to take us to war.

“One year on we urge him to come clean, admit his mistakes and commit to never undertake an illegal pre-emptive war in Britain’s name ever again”.

“We also would like to say that criticism of the police over their response to the tower being climbed is in our view misplaced. We feel their reaction was responsible and proportionate. There is a well established tradition of freedom of speech and peaceful protest in the UK. The police did not take action against the climbers as both were clearly identified as Greenpeace. Furthermore, onsite police and security were given full details by Greenpeace officials of who the climbers were and what their intention was as soon as the climb began.”

(1) The brothers were told that no charges will be brought against them after attending Charing Cross police station this morning.

For more information contact the Greenpeace press office on 0207 865 8255.

louise edge