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Peace campaign anecdotes from Helensburgh Court
Posted by: Roy on Saturday, March 20, 2010 - 10:14 AM
Protest In December last year the Helensburgh District Court sat for the last time.
Here is one anecdote from a court case arising from the campaign to shut down the Faslane Nuclear Base:

The time when JP Stirling, presiding over a Trespassing charge at Faslane Base, was interrupted from the public gallery by Sylvia Boyes who appealed for‘Common Sense’ to prevail and that she and the accused should be tried together as they had been arrested together. “Sit down madam” commanded the JP, “Common sense plays no part whatsoever in these proceedings!!!”

From Trident Ploughshares
Click below to read more

In December last year the Helensburgh District Court sat for the last time. In January a column in the Helensburgh Advertiser detailed the history of the court and related a few anecdotes but TPer Eric Wallace who has spent many an hour in the court supporting peace activists (and occasionally being in the dock himself) was shocked at it not giving us even a mention.
"Can you believe that the veteran reporter, Leslie Maxwell, never reported on all the drama acted out in the old District Court Building? Or is this how the propaganda works, starting at the top and working all the way down to the local press? Food for thought eh? They did after all print my letter after 5 weeks delay"

Court Closure
With reference to your article covering the closure of Helensburgh District Court after 173 years I am amazed that no mention was made of the last 10 years dramatic discourse acted out within the building between politicians, ministers of religion, foreign dignatories, academics, everyday citizens and the prosecutors, or procurator fiscals as they are known in Scotland, over the Trident nuclear issues.
I can scarcely believe that Mr Maxwell was unaware of this.
He and I inhabit different planets it would seem.
For many of the accused, young and old, foreign and local Helensburgh District Court suely became a focal point in their lives - especially when they were carted off to prison in handcuffs through the back door!
Let me take this last chance to thank the court employees who did a fine job organising the proceedings through the years.
Also the JPs who (with one notable exception) adjudicated as fairly as could be expected within the restraints required of them by the state.
Most of all a big thank you to the many "Bravehearts" from home and abroad who stood up for their beliefs and suffered the consequences.
A heartfelt thanks to you all.
Eric Wallace

and heres a few of those dramatic moments from Eric:

MEMORIES OF HELENSBURGH COURT CASES

For the record here are some of the most inspiring court room dramas not mentioned in the recent articles and letters in our local paper.

1) The time when JP Stirling ,presiding over a Trespassing charge at Faslane Base, was interrupted from the public gallery by Sylvia Boyes who appealed for ‘Common Sense’ to prevail and that she and the accused should be tried together as they had been arrested together. “Sit down madam” commanded the JP, “Common sense plays no part whatsoever in these proceedings!!!”

2) On another occasion, SNP activist Ian Thompson was asked from the bench if he had any intention whatsoever of paying his fine. “With respect your honour” Ian replied. “Hell will freeze over before I will pay one penny of it!!” ----- “Take him down, 14 days” was the cold response.

3) There was a time when two pairs of shiny bolt cutters, all sealed up in a bag as ‘productions’ for evidence later in the day, disappeared from the prosecutors desk during a court recession, never to be seen again!

4) There were occasions when the court was held in the Victoria Halls to allow for disabled access or ‘loop’ facilities for the hearing impaired. On one such occasion Angie Zelter staged a walk out in mid trial at what had become a farcical situation. Chaos ensued in the vestibule when Angie was pinned to the floor by the attending police officers. Meanwhile the ladies of the Victoria Halls Bridge Club had to step over the several prostrate bodies, the former passing to and fro apparently oblivious of what was going on beneath their noses!

5) A very entertaining occasion was when Penny Stone, with her wonderful voice, insisted on singing in court to illustrate the relaxed atmosphere that had prevailed on the day of her action and subsequent arrest.

6) Another day back at Helensburgh court, Morag Balfour, a wheel chair user, whose case had been dismissed as ‘’not called’’ because the court had no disabled access, dragged herself up 2 flights of stairs, through the swing doors and harangued the prosecutor from the floor of the court. Wonderful stuff!!

7) Finally the day when ‘Fungus’ insisted she must breast feed her crying baby whilst in the dock. New regulations had just been introduced that week allowing nursing mothers to breast feed in public places. After a number of false starts the baby continued to cry where upon Fungus addressed the whole court telling us that we were all too tense to allow the milk to flow properly!
----Case dismissed.

So it goes

Eric Wallace

Visit 'Gallery' for photos from Faslane actions.
For more information Trident Ploughshares click here

 
Regular Peace Actions 

Permanent, Faslane,6 miles NW of Helensburgh, Scotland on A814:
Faslane Peace Camp sited close to Faslane Nuclear Submarine Base. Also 1st Saturday in every month noise demo, workshops, free cafe and kids space. Tel:01436 820901 For photos click here

Permanent for 'woodland maintenance workers', near Garelochhead, Scotland: Peaton Glen Wood Peace Camp sited opposite Coulport Nuclear Weapons Base For more info click here

Every Tuesday evening, 6 - 8 pm, Main Entrance at NSA/USAF Menwith Hill, near Harrogate, North Yorkshire: Peaceful protests/witnesses against the proposed US 'Star Wars' systemThe demonstration is focussed on the people who work at USAF Menwith Hill - for example - we are protesting at the roles this base has ie in the American Missile Defense System ("Star Wars"), the specifically the continuing role re the Afghanistan and Iraq conflict, the policy of 'pre-emptive strikes', the ECHELON system We are also calling for Independence FROM America. Please come and voice your concerns at the presence of this American base on UK land.For more info click here


For more info click here


2nd weekend of every month: Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp clickhere
or contact info@aldermaston.net

Every Wednesday, 4-6pm Brighton, Smash EDO,noise demo against the arms manufacturer for more information click here


3rd weekend of every month, North Yorkshire: Menwith Hill Women's Peace Camp contact helenmenwith@yahoo.co.uk

last weekend of every month, Cumbria: Sellafield Women's Peace Camp contact 0113 262 1534


First Mondays of every month 5-6pm Warton, on A584 7 miles west of Preston, Lancashire. Vigil and leafletting of workers at arms makers BAE Systems site contact Jan Harper 0151 2636578 janharper1@yahoo.co.uk  

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