Two priests, a teacher, a blind woman and a grandmother guilty of criminal damage at RAF base
UPDATE: All six have been found guilty and sentenced to six months conditional discharge and ordered to pay £75 costs, £15 surcharge and £10 compensation.
Operations at RAF Waddington stopped and the base was shut down after six anti-drone protesters walked through a hole in a fence made with bolt cutters, a court heard.
The direct action was against the use of armed drones over Afghanistan which are remotely piloted from the base.
Once inside, the intruders planted a peace garden, unfurled banners, pinned up pictures of drone attack child victims and leafleted staff.
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And one protester described how she even walked up the side of the runway with a big peace sign.
On trial are: pensioner Susan Clarkson, 66, who is partially sighted and registered blind and drones researcher Christopher Cole, 49, both from Oxford, teacher Henrietta Cullinan, 51, from London, Dr Rev Keith Hebden, 37, an Anglican Vicar, from Mansfield, Catholic Priest, Father Martin Newell, 46, from London and grandmother Penelope Walker, 62 from Leicester,
All deny criminal damage to a fence belonging to the RAF on June 3 and are on trial at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court.
Michael Treharne, prosecuting, said the accused are seeking to justify their actions on the basis that they were attempting in one form or another to protect property or people elsewhere.
"Their behaviour was polite and there were no threats of any kind,” he said.
Anglican vicar Mr Hebden, a dad-of-tw, told the court how he symbolically planted a vine and a fig tree.
He adddded that he was arrested by a Lincolnshire Police officer whom he had invited to enter the base through the hole in the fence.
“Because this country is part of a war zone – something that has not happened since the Second World War – it makes all our lives less secure as we terrorise other countries,” he said.
“Unless I intervened when a crime has been committed that could lead to damage to property or loss of life then I’m guilty of a crime too.
“It was a big deal for me to do it but it felt necessary. My hope as that we could meet 13 Squadron pilots and appeal to their humanity.
“The entire base was shut down and entire operations shut down.
“Whatever the outcome today, drone have been put on trial and I believe we have saved lives.”
The hearing continues.