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First offenders of new anti-terror law admonished for peace protest

letterem | 20.03.2008 16:06 | SOCPA | Anti-militarism | Terror War

Faslane anti-nuclear peace activists charged with offences under SOCPA discover that the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act is not so serious after all.

Two peace protesters yesterday became the first people in Scotland to be convicted under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.
Lavinia Crossley, 22, from Bradford, Tansy Newman-Turner, 22, of Leicester, and Emma Bateman, 40, of South Wigston, set out to scale the fence and enter the HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane last September in order to protest about the British trident nuclear weapons which are deployed from the base. Tansy Newman-Turner and Emma Bateman were prosecuted under section 129 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) and Lavinia Crossley was prosecuted for a breach of the peace.
Tansy and Emma had faced a possible year in prison or a £5000 fine under the terms of the new legislation which now sees anyone who breaches any of the UK's 10 military bases as potential terrorists.
The pair conducted their own defences in Dumbarton Sheriff Court yesterday, arguing that nuclear weapons are legally and morally wrong. Sheriff Simon Fraser found them guilty but chose to admonish them rather than impose a fine or prison sentence. The case against the third protester, Lavinia, was found to be not proven.
Sheriff Fraser told the women: "I would like to make it clear that you do have a right to protest but the problem arises where you go about it.
"You committed an offence under the terms of this act but you caused no damage and have no previous convictions."
Commenting after the case Emma Bateman said “We are very happy with the outcome. The government brought in SOCPA to scare off protesters, but it is proving to be entirely ineffectual at doing so. I am far more scared at the prospect of a nuclear bomb exploding either by accident or design than I am by the serious organised crime and police act.”

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