Protestors return to anti-nuclear camp

Protestors return to camp
Protestors return to camp

By politics.co.uk staff

Protestors return to anti-nuclear camp

Anti-nuclear campaigners returned to their post yesterday following a successful appeal court ruling against a "no camping" bylaw which threatened their famous women's peace camp.

The bylaw prohibited "camping in tents, caravans, trees or otherwise" near the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Aldermaston, Berkshire.


The ban was challenged by the Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp (AWPC) on the grounds it contradicted their rights guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights.

The High Court rejected their claims the ban interfered with their rights to free expression and the right to assembly

But Lord Justice Laws, Lord Justice Wall and Lord Justice Stanley Burnton overturned the decision in favour of the AWPC on Thursday claiming that "no pressing need" for the ban had been shown.

"They couldn't come up with a public interest reason for why we shouldn't be there," Sian Jones, a spokesperson for the AWPC told politics.co.uk.

"We're feeling extremely pleased, perhaps even slightly smug. I think we might have a party."

She said the arguments in favour of the ban were quite weak, with no apparent strong objections to their presence or any concerns about public safety.

In granting the appeal, Lord Justice Laws said: "Rights worth having are unruly things. Demonstrations and protests are liable to be a nuisance.

"They are liable to be inconvenient and tiresome, or at least perceived as such by others who are out of sympathy with them.

"Sometimes they are wrong-headed and misconceived," he added.

"Whether or not the AWPC's cause is wrong-headed or misconceived is neither here not there, and if their activities are inconvenient or tiresome, the secretary of state's shoulders are surely broad enough to cope."

Another protestor said she felt more women may now join their cause following the decision.

She said: "We've been there for 24 years. We go there once a month, spend the weekend there and bear witness.

"The bylaw would have stopped anyone from campaigning there.

"People can actually go to the areas around Aldermaston and walk their dogs, do whatever they want, so specifically they wanted to stop us from campaigning there."

The AWPC is campaigning against Britain's continued use of a nuclear weapons programme.

Kay Tabernacle, the AWPC member who led the action against the ban said: "For the past 23 years the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has sought to get rid of the peace camp.

"Yet despite years of harassment, evictions and false arrests by the MoD, women have continued their long-standing protest against Britain's weapons of mass destruction because we knew we must speak out against nuclear weapons."

The ruling came at an unfortunate time for the government.

The foreign secretary recently unveiled plans for the world to move towards a nuclear weapons-free future which protestors claim is in direct contrast to the government's plans to replace or upgrade the Trident missile system.

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