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The Fairford Five: The Iraq War on Trial

BIMC Vol | 26.04.2004 12:09 | Anti-militarism

At around 8.30 this morning around 100 supporters of the Fairford Five gathered in the centre of Bristol. They were here for the start of the trail that is expected to focus world attention on the legality of the war.

the procession to the court
the procession to the court

a model B52 - not as dangerous as the real thing!
a model B52 - not as dangerous as the real thing!

the head of the procession to Bristol Crown Court
the head of the procession to Bristol Crown Court

The Fairford Five are those accused of breaking into a US airbase and trying to disable its capacity to bomb. One activist remarked, as the procession marched towards the court, “It should be the war on trial here. Lets put the Blair government on trial.” Outside the court other activists were equally vocal; “The troops should come out. The Spanish are getting out and yet we’re going to send more troops in!” The large crowed were buoyant and outspoken about why there were there as another protestor remarked, “Blair wants us to move on. I see the referendum [on the European Constitution] as a smokescreen to hide these events – we will not let them forget.”

Inside the Crown Court, and waiting to enter Court No.5 were more supporters – some 30 to 40 - who were hoping to attend the trail. Many were to be disappointed as the courtroom only has 20 public seats. Here Louise James, a solicitor for the defence, discussed the legal perspective, “The defence is arguing that they took action to prevent a loss of life from an illegal act.” She pointed out that the prosecution are trying to argue that a UK court has no jurisdiction over that the UK government may do in other parts of the world. “Whatever happens,” she says, “I think we will see an appeal. We will fight the case to the end.”

Inside court No.5 was a largish room with a small but packed public seating area, a central area for the barristers and other legal people. Behind them was a space separated by a glass and wood barrier – the doc- where sat the Fairford Five. As the proceedings got underway, the state began with an appeal to the judge that details of the pre-trial hearing should be bared from being reported in the press as this may prejudice any potential juror, and so the outcome of any trial. This, they argued, would serve the interests of justice. The defence countered by arguing that, as the facts of the case were not in dispute, that there was a strong public interest in the case, and that none of the defendants objected to the reporting of the trial – so the press should be free to report on the case. The judge, Justice Grigson, accepted the defence’s plea and declared that there were no media restrictions on the case. Round one to the defence.

Following this, the judge noted that he had received some submissions on Saturday and had not yet had sufficient time to digest all the legal arguments being made. All agreed that time should be put aside for the judge to read the papers (“It does help somewhat.” Quipped Judge Grigson) and as such the case was adjourned to reconvene tomorrow at 10am. As we all filed out of the court Margaret remarked that the trial had, “got off to a flying start.” She went on that say, “We are confident of the justice of our cause. The US an Britain have shown a contempt for international law hardly matched since World War II.”

The trail continues.

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Display the following 4 comments

  1. well done — gil
  2. Hear, Hear — Prajña
  3. more information on fairford — Andy
  4. Is a transcript possible? — zo