Brits to take up base protester’s abuse complaint
April 13, 2008
RAF MILDENHALL, England — British government prosecutors agreed last week to take on the case of a protester alleging mistreatment at the hands of a U.S. airman after she broke onto RAF Croughton in 2006.
Now that the case is under its jurisdiction, the Crown Prosecution Service will make a decision to either prosecute or drop the case brought forth by Lindis Percy, 66, an anti-war activist arrested dozens of times in and around U.S. bases in England.
That CPS decision on whether to prosecute Airman 1st Class Frank McDonald should be reached in time for a hearing later this month, said Lawrence English, the district crown prosecutor for Northamptonshire, the county where Croughton is located.
Percy said last month that she is seeking to prosecute McDonald, of the 422nd Communications Squadron, and two British Ministry of Defence policemen because her rights as a British citizen were ignored during her February 2006 arrest on Croughton.
Under U.S. and U.K. agreements, only British authorities can detain local residents who trespass onto Air Force bases in England, and Percy said her rights under those agreements were not honored.
Percy said she was “thrown to the ground,” handcuffed and injured after McDonald found her walking on the base. She said she suffered nerve damage and facial paralysis for six weeks after the incident.
McDonald is protected under various agreements between the U.S. and Britain, including the status of forces agreement, said Maj. John Haynes, a 3rd Air Force spokesman.
Citing the ongoing nature of the litigation, Haynes would not comment further on the case.
Barry Athawes and Kenneth Woodhouse, the two MOD policemen Percy accuses of not protecting her rights, are being provided legal assistance, according to Steve Partridge, an MOD police spokesman.
Similar cases have been brought against U.S. airmen in the past, Haynes said, but were dropped because the British court concluded it did not have jurisdiction.
Percy said last month that charges against her in the February 2006 trespass were dropped due to a technicality involving which MOD officer gave her a warning when she was on the base.