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News on the Fairford five.

Bristol STW press release



... THE STATE IS NERVOUS ...


The Fairford 5 trials have once more exploded onto the international stage, as
the Foreign Office intervenes in the court proceedings against the 'Fairford 5'
- who all attempted to disable U.S B52 Bombers stationed at Fairford
(Gloucestershire, U.K) in the days leading up to the illegal bombing of Iraq
during March 2003.

Related Link: http://www.fairfordpeacewatch.com



"DON'T RULE ON IRAQ"
 
FOREIGN OFFICE WARNS COURT

A senior Foreign Office official issued a dramatic warning this week, about
possible consequences of a British court ruling on the legality of the Iraq war.

In a tone best described as one of feverish consternation, Sir Michael Hastings
Jay, Permanent Under- Secretary of State at the Foreign Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service, warned that any court ruling on the Iraq war critical of UK government policy could damage relations with other governments, destabilise the new administration in Iraq, give aid and comfort to terrorists, and put the lives of British citizens in danger.

Sir Michael's four-page signed statement was handed to a hearing of the Court of Appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday, ten minutes before the hearing was due to start.

In the event, Sir Michael's statement was never cited in evidence, which is why
it can be quoted here. But it offers an indication of the present British
Establishment's extreme touchiness where any possible court ruling relating to
the Iraq war is concerned.

The hearing concerned the cases of the Fairford Five - a group of peace
protesters charged with conspiracy and criminal damage for their actions at a
Gloucestershire air base against the war on Iraq last year.

After a preparatory hearing in Bristol Crown Court in May, Mr. Justice Grigson
ruled that the matter of the legality of the Iraq war was "non-justiciable," and
that the Fairford Five were not entitled to argue in their defence that they had
acted to resist an unlawful war. Lawyers for the five peace activists argue that
for their clients to have a fair trial, it will be necessary for them to speak
of their "sincere belief" that the war was unlawful.

Sir Michael writes, "In the judgment of the Secretary of State and the Foreign &
Commonwealth Office, and in my own opinion, it would be prejudicial to the
national interest and to the conduct of the Government's foreign policy if the
English courts were to express opinions on questions of international law
concerning the use of force by the United Kingdom and the United States which
might differ from those expressed by the Government and advanced by it in the
conduct of international relations."

The situation "in and relating to" Iraq remains, in Sir Michael's view, "one of
the most sensitive in international relations at the present time." Sir Michael
believes that, "If the opinion of an English court, expressed in a formal
judgment, differed from that of the Government, this would inevitably weaken the Government's hand in its negotiations with other States."

Allied governments "which have agreed with and supported the United Kingdom's views on the legality of the use of force, could regard such a step as tending to undermine their own position." Governments less friendly to UK policy on the war, "could seize upon such a judgment and use it to question the Government's position in the course of diplomatic negotiations concerning Iraq and more widely."

"Serious risks" could arise for the United Kingdom, Jay claims, from a court
ruling on the war that went against the Government:

"It is likely that such a decision would provide encouragement to those in Iraq
who are using violence to destabilise the situation, including insurgents,
terrorists, former regime loyalists and those in Middle Eastern Countries who
are supporting them. It would tend to undermine the new Iraqi Interim Government which took office on 29 June 2004. It would weaken the United Kingdom's standing in Iraq, and could thus increase the vulnerability of UK forces and personnel.

At the diplomatic level it would risk weakening the international consensus in
support of the Iraqi Interim Government's actions to increase stability,
security and the protection of human rights in Iraq. In particular, it would
undermine the consensus re-established within the Security Council, in which the international community has agreed to put past controversies behind it and to come together to assist Iraq [to] move forward." [Italics added]

Sir Michael adds that, in his view, a ruling from the court critical of UK
government policy on Iraq could "undermine the Government's standing with Arab and Islamic countries, and could give comfort and encouragement to terrorist organisations."

The UK's "efforts to negotiate and secure effective measures against
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction ( and in particular to prevent them
becoming available to terrorist organisations) could be hampered" - also "the
United Kingdom's efforts to secure co-operation of States in measures against
terrorists based in other countries, and measures to secure co-operation in the
exchange of information vital to security matters."

Meanwhile, the Fairford defendants continue to battle for their right to "mention the war."

A ruling by the Court of Appeal is expected within the next few weeks.

Related Link: http://www.fairfordpeacewatch.com

 

 



"The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are
selling - their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons,
their notion of inevitability. Remember this - we be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy.

... SAY YES 2 PEACE ... SAY YES 2 PEACE ... SAY YES 2 PEACE ...





 

July 2004

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