Peace protesters cite `laws of God' in court

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The Independent Online
TWO PEACE campaigners in their seventies cited the Coronation Oath of Elizabeth I when they appeared in court yesterday charged with cutting the fence of an atomic bomb factory.

Sarah Hipperson. 70 and Elizabeth Walford, 77, said that the production of nuclear weapons broke "the laws of God" - something everyone is duty bound to uphold.

In what may be a landmark case, Reading Crown Court was told that the two women had been among of protesters who cut the fence at Burghfield Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Berkshire. They carried out their protest on 5 August 1996, the 51st anniversary of the first military use of an atomic bomb at Hiroshima.

Barnaby Evans, prosecuting, said that the pair, with two others, had cut the fence 74 times, causing pounds 10,200 worth of damage. The court was told that the women made no attempt to run away when they were arrested by Ministry of Defence officers.

Ms Hipperson told officers: "I would like to say that I cut the fence because of Crown land, belonging to Her Majesty the Queen. Under the 1558 Coronation Oath (of Elizabeth 1) all citizens of the country, including officers of the Ministry of Defence and AWE, have to obey the laws of God. I believe what is happening in AWE Burghfield is contrary to the law of God and that is why I cut the fence."

Mr Evans said: "These defendants are anti-nuclear campaigners ... You may agree with their views or you may disagree but it would be hard for anyone to doubt their sincerity."

Both women, who gave their address as Yellow Gate at the women's peace camp, Greenham Common, Berkshire, deny damaging property.

The case continues.