British activists appear in court over RAF Lakenheath incidents
January 10, 2008
RAF MILDENHALL, England — A group of British peace activists are set to appear in Suffolk courtrooms in the coming months in connection with two civil disobedience incidents roughly a year apart.
At least six activists are scheduled to appear at Sudbury Magistrates’ Court on Feb. 14 in connection with the blocking of a road leading to RAF Lakenheath on Oct. 8, 2007, according to a Bury St. Edmunds Magistrates’ Court clerk. The six were in court Tuesday for a pretrial hearing.
At least three of the same suspects are then slated to appear at Mildenhall Magistrates’ Court in March for a scheduled three-day trial in connection with charges filed after eight people broke onto RAF Lakenheath on Oct. 2, 2006, and chained themselves to a fence, the clerk said. The activists were charged with criminal trespassing and criminal damage under the so-called Serious Organized Crime and Police Act, a law enacted in 2005 and designed to protect sensitive government sites, according to British Ministry of Defence spokesman Steve Partridge.
A British anti-nuclear weapons organization published a statement on the Internet shortly after the eight were arrested, claiming the activists were protesting the storage of weapons of mass destruction on RAF Lakenheath.
The Ministry of Defence police identified the activists as Lesley Anderson, 24, of Muckhart, Scotland; Melanie Harrison, 35, Mettingham, Suffolk; Leslie Grahame, 47, Norwich, Norfolk; Margaret Moss, 56, of Norwich; Peter Lux, 44, Norwich; Irene Willis, 61, Canvey Island, Essex; and Richard Rushmer, 37, Old Lakenham, Norfolk. The ages of the suspects were provided in February 2007. An eighth suspect, a then-39-year-old Leicester woman, did not return to court last February after being released on bail, and it’s unclear if she will appear at court in March.
Harrison, Willis and Anderson are also suspects in the October 2007 incident, according to British court records.
The suspects in the 2006 incident face a maximum penalty of 51 weeks in jail and a $10,000 fine, Partridge said.
RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall are two of the 14 military installations in the United Kingdom included on the list of sites that are protected by the Serious Organized Crime and Police Act, Partridge said.