Socialist Worker

‘Iraq war crimes’ defence convinces jurors

Issue No. 2019

A jury in the case of two peace activists accused of sabotaging military equipment has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict.

Margaret Jones, from Bristol, and Paul Milling, from Cumbria, disabled bomb-carrying trailers at the RAF base in Fairford, Gloucestershire, in March 2003.

The pair said they wanted to stop US Air Force B?52 bombers taking off. They were trying to stop the “murder of innocent civilians” in Iraq.

They argued in court that they were justified in disabling trailers used to transport bombs for US jets and fuel tankers in order to prevent war crimes being committed.

Paul and Margaret face a new trial next year after jurors told judge Tom Crowther that they were unable to agree on a verdict.

The pair admitted using hammers and boltcutters to disable the equipment at RAF Fairford on 13 March 2003 - just one week before the invasion of Iraq.

But they denied conspiracy to cause criminal damage, arguing they were entitled to be acquitted because they were acting to prevent war crimes and the destruction of property in Baghdad.

The two activists, who were the first defendants in an English crown court to mount the defence that they were acting to prevent war crimes, were also granted bail.

The family of Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent Brazilian shot dead in an anti-terrorism operation in London, has expressed outrage that the head of the police operation has been promoted.

Commander Cressida Dick may still face disciplinary action following the shooting. Despite this, she has been promoted to deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police force.

A spokesperson for Jean’s family said, “The family are absolutely disgusted and outraged at what is just one more slap in the face. They cannot understand how this can possibly be happening.”

Jean’s cousin Alex Pereira said that if Jean “was a rich person, then it would have been a bit different”.

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Sat 23 Sep 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2019
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