War protester says she prefers jail time to paying fine
RAF MILDENHALL, England — An anti-war protester who broke into RAF Lakenheath, England, last October during a demonstration has said she would rather go to prison than pay her fines.
Margaret Jones, 53, a retired lecturer, told Sudbury Magistrates’ Court last week that her efforts were an attempt to avoid an “irreparable evil,” according to a report published in the Bury Free Press weekly newspaper.
Jones denied criminal wrongdoing, despite admitting that she cut through the fence around the base, home of the 48th Fighter Wing, with a pair of wire cutters. She was found on the base late in the afternoon of Oct. 6, when about 160 demonstrators assembled to protest possible war in Iraq and the presence, they claim, of nuclear weapons on the base. The base will neither confirm nor deny that claim.
Jones said she had a moral authority to act on her beliefs in an attempt to prevent war.
“I think, if one cut the fence of a concentration camp, people would not regard it as a criminal act in regards of what was going on inside the fence,” she said in a police interview that was taped and played at her trial last week.
She was fined 300 British pounds, about $500, and ordered to pay 366.52 pounds, about $620, in compensation and costs. She was fined an additional 250 pounds, about $400, for breaching a conditional discharge order made last year.
Jones has been to prison twice before for refusing to pay court fines arising from previous protests, according to the report. After the trial, she said, “I have no regrets and I would do it again. I will not pay the fines on principle. I would rather do time.”