Todmorden protester guilty of trespassing at nuclear weapons factory

High Wycombe magistrates court.(Google Street View)
High Wycombe magistrates court.(Google Street View)

FOUR protesters including a woman from Todmorden have been found guilty of aggravated trespass, while blockading the entrance to a nuclear weapons factory.

The Atomic Weapons Establishment Burghfield, five miles southwest of Reading, makes nuclear warheads for the UK’s Trident missiles.

Activists from Trident Ploughshares blockaded the entrance to the factory on October 24, last year. They locked themselves to cars and to each other to create barriers across the roads into the site.

Four of them were found guilty last week of aggravated trespass at a trial in High Wycombe magistrates court.

These were: Chris Bluemel, 38, of Broadlands Road, Southampton; Catriona McNeil, 40, of White Street, Glasgow; Awel Irene, 65, of Garreg, Penrhyndeudraeth; and Julia Mercer, 69, of Beaumont Street, Todmorden.

Each must now pay a £795 fine. Three received two years on conditional discharge, and Mr Bluemel received three years on conditional discharge.

This means no further action is taken unless the protesters commit further offences within the stated time.

Mr Bluemel said: “We have been committed to taking action against nuclear weapons. We believe they are illegal under international law.”

He said the campaigners are also against nuclear weapons because of the ‘inability to discriminate between civilians and military, and the level of suffering they have caused.’

AWE Burghfield is one of the key sites for the UK’s nuclear weapons infrastructure, where nuclear weapons are made and brought back for heavy maintenance work.

Mr Bluemel said there were concerns over the risks to the public from transporting the warheads on public roads and through built-up areas.

He said: “I am obviously disappointed by the verdict, but the fight to rid the UK and the world of nuclear weapons continues.

“There is a wealth of literature as to the illegality of Trident and I am convinced we are on the right side of history.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “The United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent is fully compliant and compatible with our international legal obligations.

“Maintaining and renewing elements of the UK’s nuclear deterrent capability is fully consistent with our international obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which does not prohibit the maintenance of our nuclear weapons systems currently held by the nuclear weapons and does not set out any timetable for nuclear

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