CAAB Report 261
Tuesday 22 October 2013 at NSA Menwith Hill near Harrogate North Yorkshire
The Tuesday pm weekly demonstration at NSA Menwith Hill had hardly started when I was suddenly arrested by PC Ashton (Ministry of Defence Police) for allegedly breaching a notice that had been purportedly given on 11 September (s.69 “aggravated trespass” Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994). I was told that I was to be searched at the scene and it would be done even though this must be done by a female officer.
I declined to be searched by a male officer (apparently no female officer available) and was told that they would use force. I told them what was in my pockets. I was told that I had to open my coat but they insisted (Alan Davidson Sergeant, PC Ashton and another officer) that this is what they would do. Apparently they can do this but only under exceptional circumstances. I said that I would compromise and show them what was in one pocket and told them what was in the other. Even though against the principle of male officers searching women detainees and unlawful force being threatened I thought it was better to compromise rather than force.). I was taken to Harrogate Police station and eventually charged with alleged breach of s.69 notice.
Bail conditions were imposed not enter MOD land at NSA Menwith Hill. I am bailed to appear at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court on 12 November at 10 am. I was NOT searched while in custody and released quite soon. I very much hope this case comes to court.
CAAB Report 260
Tuesday 9 July 2013
Independence from America Event held at Menwith Hill on Thursday 4th July 2013.
The weather smiled on those gathered outside the gates of NSA/USAF Menwith Hill during the late afternoon and evening of 4th July 2013. Banners and posters spelt out messages that sum up a lot of the anxiety felt widely about the activities at Menwith Hill. An Edward Snowden look alike drifted around the crowd. A giant postcard was signed by many present to encourage the real Edward Snowden, wherever he may be now. A good sized crowd was rewarded with music and engaging speeches, all supported by a good supply to tea, coffee, cakes and vegan food.
The Walk of Witness celebrating 100 years of Northern Friends Peace Board arrived in good spirits having walked for 3 days from the site where Conscientious Objectors were imprisoned in Richmond Castle during World War 1. A brief silence was observed before the reading of the People’s Declaration of Independence FROM America, after which a model drone was presented to Geoff Dickson (Squadron Leader – RAF Liaison Officer NSA / USAF Menwith Hill) to pass on to Christopher Gilmore, current US Commander of NSA Menwith Hill. Christine Dean spoke of her childhood terror of the doodle bugs flying into World War II London and her feelings that unmanned killing machines are now flying and killing once again. Geoff Dickson in reply emphasized the need to give all people the right to speak, even if you do not agree with them.
As in previous years the East Lancashire Clarion Choir gave a wonderful, uplifting burst of song. Other music was provided by Mizan the Poet, Ziggurat, Peter Pollard and Karl Dallas.
Andy Worthington reflected on the cry for independence 273 years ago and the sad paradox of incarceration at Guantanemo Bay. He understood President Obama’s statements that it was a disgrace but found it more difficult to understand why he does not actively resolve the problems. The stain of Guantanemo Bay will be on American hands for many years to come with inevitable tragic consequences.
Salma Yaqoob considered the search for Full Spectrum Dominance with its use of fear as a means of gaining support. She encouraged us to think of the power of stories of humanity and the nurture that comes from love and compassion.
Martin Wainwright reflected on the positive appearance of the domes reminding us that not everyone thinks they are ugly. So many positive values were exported to America from the Pilgrim Fathers to the thousands of people who followed them. Great power corrupts and we are called upon to remind ourselves and others that power brings responsibilities with it. We must be accountable for what we do.
Thank you to everyone who made the annual Independence FROM America demonstration possible. We were so grateful to all who helped.
It would be so good that there was no need to return on 4th July 2014 because the base had gone or so changed its accountability arrangements that the basis for requesting Independence from America had gone. However please plan to join us then and on any Tuesday evening between 6pm and 8pm when the witness continues.
9 July 2013
CAAB Report 259
Saturday 27 April 2013
“KNOW US MILITARY DRONES – ILLEGAL, IMMORAL AND DEADLY
demonstration at the gates of NSA Menwith Hill, near Harrogate North Yorkshire.
This was a hastily organised demonstration to make the link between the role of NSA Menwith Hill, USAF Croughton
and yet unidentified US bases in the UK and the use of US military Drones. We thought that it was important to arrange this given that NSA Menwith Hill already has a link with US military Drones
(see Drone section on CAAB website and Drone Wars UK website: Dronewarsuk.wordpress.com)
The demonstration was in tandem with the protest at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire – “Ground the Drones” from where UK Drones are now to be operated (confirmed by the MOD on 25 April 2013) http://www.demotix.com/news/2000944/hundreds-protest-remote-operation-armed-drones-raf-waddington/al
The demonstration was small but the people who came travelled from London, Middleborough, Leeds, Bradford, Otley and Harrogate. Aided by the Ministry of Defence Police, we stopped each car coming out of the base, (as is done at the Tuesday pm (6-8 pm) weekly demonstration) for a short time. We held posters in front of the cars saying for example “For goodness sake Mr Obama – stop droning on – THINK”.
We were joined by Geoff Dickson (newly appointed RAF Liaison officer at NSA Menwith Hill. Christine Dean read out a letter of solidarity from CAAB to those gathered at RAF Waddington and the one we received from them. The letter was given to Geoff Dickson (newly appointed RAF Liaison officer to give to Christopher Gilmore (US Commander). CAAB has never received a response to any of the numerous letters to the many US Commanders who have come and gone over the years at NSA Menwith Hill.
Thank you so much to everyone who came.
Please don’t forget the weekly Tuesday demonstration at NSA Menwith Hill (6-8 pm) and come!
NEXT DEMONSTRATION: The annual ‘Independence FROM America’ demonstration on Thursday 4 July 2013 at the gates of NSA Menwith Hill near Harrogate North Yorkshire. More details soon on CAAB website:
Lindis Percy and Laila Packer
CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACCOUNTABILITY OF AMERICAN BASES – CAAB
CAAB Report no. 258
January 21, 2013
ARREST AT NSA MENWITH HILL – the day of the public inauguration of Barack Obama
Lindis Percy went to NSA Menwith Hill in the afternoon of 21 January 2013 – the day Barack Obama was publicly ‘sworn’ in in Washington. She had an upside down US flag with the words ‘NOW THEN….SECOND AND ONLY CHANCE OBAMA’ – nothing happening at the base (except for 24 hour gathering of intelligence/surveillance/intelligence-led warfare and crucial connection to US Missile Defense (2 Space Based Infra Red radomes constructed in 1999 – see CAAB website to read about the legal action we took in the High Court in 1999).
She was arrested under section 128 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 by James Sheehan (PC Ministry of Defence Police). She was not charged as the decision to charge under this odious section is up to the Attorney General – Dominic Green has 6 months to decide. Bail conditions were imposed even though she was not charged. The police can do this as the law was changed in 2006. She is bailed to Harrogate Police Station on 21 March 2013.
The last time Lindis was arrested (USAF Mildenhall) under this section of SOCPA it took Baroness Scotland 6 months almost to the day to decide. Lindis represented herself before a District Judge (there were many hearings and one US ‘security’ personal was flown in from the US on the day of the trial). She was found not guilty and costs awarded to her (See report number 242 – below).
CAAB Report no. 257
The day the Olympic Torch came to Harrogate – 19 June 2012
Lindis Percy was arrested for the spurious reason ‘to prevent a breach of the peace’ when the Olympic torch came through Harrogate. She had absolutely no intention to disrupt or upset anyone. However it had come to her attention that ‘representatives’ from the American base at NSA Menwith Hill were to be a ‘guard of honour’ when the torch came past.
As soon as she arrived in the town centre she was followed by two North Yorkshire police officers (one on a bike). Lindis noticed that the representatives were lining up and preparing in a side street. She quietly stood by the people from MH (US representatives from each force – army, navy, marines and air force dressed in ceremonial uniforms and wearing various medals). She was holding an upside down US flag with the words ‘Independence FROM America’ written on the flag.
Lindis was quietly talking to them. A US navy officer was instructing them to make sure that each flag was held at the same height. It was all very peaceful and no one objected to her being there. Lindis decided to stand in front of each line of US personnel and quietly say one of two things – drones came into it as well as the conflicts, killing and maiming the US military and their agencies are causing round the world. She stood in front of the second row and talked to a US army personnel and said something like “Many of us are very concerned at what you are doing round the world and what you do at Menwith Hill”. He said “But we are bringing freedom to the world – that’s what we do”. Lindis said, smiling…”Please say that again”. He was smiling too. She was very quiet, calm and politely talking.
SuddenlyLindis was aware of being grabbed by the arm and very roughly and aggressively snatched away. Seven aggressive West Yorkshire police (WYP) surrounded her – several talking at once at her. They would not let her leave. She was not under arrest. They kept asking her who she was. They knew perfectly well who she was as she had been identified and followed almost as soon as she had arrived in the town centre. They insisted that she gave her name and ‘details’. Lindis declined to give any information saying “another officer asked if I was Lindis Percy so you are fully aware of my name and who I am”.
Lindis was told that she was not be there. After a while she gently sank to the ground (surrounded by many pairs of black legs) and crawled out between open legs. One of the officers said “Oh leave her”. She was then followed by four officers, very closely and suddenly arrested to ‘prevent a breach of the peace’. She was taken to a nearby side street where they attempted to apply handcuffs. Lindis has rarely been handcuffed. In the process her arm was cut. They then gave up. She had said several times “There is no need to do this – I know I’m under arrest and I will walk”.
Lindis was kept (for what seemed a long time) in a side road. There were about five WYP officers by this time and someone filming all the time. It was fortunate that just as she was being arrested a Quaker Friend happened to be passing. Lindis asked her if she could/would observe what was going on. The Friend was grabbed by the arm and told to move on by the police. Unbeknown to Lindis and until seen the Friend had quietly followed and was closely observing what was going on in the side road.
At one point one of the officers said that Lindis was in the ‘middle of the military’ and that ‘she may have had anything in the bag that she was carrying’. However at no time was she or the bag searched.
Eventually Lindis was told that a van had arrived to take her to Harrogate Police station. She walked to the van, got in and was kept in the cage in the van for at least 20 minutes. It was oppressively hot. A Sergeant (North Yorkshire police and who Lindis knew) got in on his own and she was driven to Harrogate Police Station (a brand new building costing £18M and two and a half miles from the centre of Harrogate. There was no arresting officer or other officer accompanying.
The intentions of the police had become clear to Lindis – to detain her until the torch went by and then let her go – de arrest. Right from the start Lindis had no intention of doing anything to upset this event. Her intention and reason to be in the centre was to legitimately and peacefully protest at the present and inclusion of the personnel from the American base at Menwith Hill.
We arrived at Harrogate Police station and waited for the gates to the custody suite to roll open. The van suddenly backed and parked in the car park. Lindis knew exactly what was going to happen as she observed a police officer come out of the building to speak to the Sergeant. She was then de-arrested.
Lindis said to Harry Fleming (Sergeant who drove her to HPS) that what had happened was out of order and asked if he would ring for a taxi for her. He said he was going back to the centre of Harrogate so could give her a lift! He took her to her car which she had parked in the centre of town.
She went straight to the town Police office (not a designated Police station now) and asked to speak to the officer in charge of the Olympic torch event. Bruce Prendergast soon arrived who was apparently the ‘Bronze Commander on the ground’. She wanted to get the cut on her arm documented and photographed (which was caused by WYP on arrest when they were unreasonably and aggressively putting handcuffs on).
Lindis later made a complaint which is in the process of being investigated by Steve Taylor (Inspector WYP).
CAAB Report No. 256
Read the summary of the trial here: R -v- Lindis Percy Summary of case 20.04.2012 (pdf)
from indymedia …
Judge criticises MoD Plod & dismisses all charges against Lindis Percy
A long drawn out case against Lindis Percy has ended in North Yorkshire with the District Judge dismissing all charges. The Judge was highly critical of the police behaviour in this case, including ‘mystery’ police statements, failure to record the incident and failure to interview key witnesses. She concluded that the case was weak, vague and contained significant inconsistencies. Lindis was awarded costs.
THE LATEST: PRESS RELEASE
From the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases – CAAB
District Judge highly critical of Ministry of Defence Police witnesses and dismisses all charges against Lindis Percy (Joint Coordinator of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases – CAAB)
At Harrogate Magistrates’ Court and at the end of a three day trial yesterday (19 April 2012) Jane Goodwin (District Judge) ruled there was no case to answer.
Lindis Percy was charged with allegedly ‘wilfully obstructing three Ministry of Defence Police officers in the execution of their duty’ on 16 August 2011. Some of the Ministry of Defence Police witnesses came from NSA Menwith Hill and some from the Divisional Support Group in York. The prosecution was brought by Simon Ostler (CPS).
The reasons for this decision given by Jane Goodwin included: officers having selective memory, inconsistency within and between their testimonies. The arresting officer and Investigating officer in the case was PC Proud and it was ‘puzzling’ to her that the CCTV footage which was ‘most helpful’ was not used by the CPS.
In her ruling Jane Goodwin said there was a reluctance to answer by some of the Prosecution witnesses – particularly to identify features, movement and officers seen on the CCTV footage. PC Briggs ‘didn’t bother’ to make any entries in his pocket book and there was no mention of the incident or the defendant. PC Shields
made some entries but also there was no mention of the incident, the defendant or any ‘obstruction’. Jane Goodwin said it was a ‘mystery’ concerning some of PC Shield’s statements. There was a failure to interview or take statements from the occupants of a parked car who were ‘central’ to the case and the ‘only independent’ witnesses.
Overall Jane Goodwin concluded that the case was too weak, vague and contained significant inconsistencies. All charges against Lindis Percy were dismissed and the case stopped. Costs were awarded to her.
Comment from Lindis Percy:
“This protracted case should never have been brought. It was flawed from the start and was a shocking waste of public resources and money”.
Notes to the Editor:
a.. The three officers in the charge against Lindis Percy were: PC Proud, PC Shields and PC Mattiya (Ministry of Defence Police)
b.. The prosecutor was Simon Ostler (CPS)
c.. Lindis Percy defended herself
d.. There were nine Prosecution witnesses.
e.. The alleged incident took place during the weekly Tuesday evening demonstration (6-8 pm) – held outside the main entrance to NSA Menwith Hill near Harrogate North Yorkshire.
f.. This demonstration has happened every week for over 12 years (bar three) all year round.
g.. CAAB has campaigned for many years concerning the issues around the presence of the US Visiting Forces – NSA Menwith Hill in particular, in the UK and world wide.
h. For the work of CAAB please refer to: www.caab.org.uk
Thank you to Genny Bove for compiling the stages of this case.
CAAB Report No 255
Refer to CAAB Report 253
Simon Ostler (CPS) is continuing the case against Lindis Percy (refer to CAAB Report 253 below). The trial will take place on 17-19 April 2012 at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court at 10 am before District Judge Jane Goodwin.
CAAB Report No 254
Outside the US embassy
25 February 2012
Lindis Percy was in London at the weekend – for the launch of the reprint of Gareth Peice’s very disturbing but excellent book – Dispatches from the Dark Side and the end of Justice. Among the very interesting things she did in London was to go the US embassy to bear witness at the ratcheting up of the attack on Iran.
She has been to the US embassy many times over the years – sometimes arrested – never charged. The last time she went was last year (1 July) – arrested, dearrested, arrested and taken to Belgravia Police Station – a spurious arrest – not charged and quickly released when the Custody Sergeant realised they had got the law wrong (legal action for unlawful arrest in the pipeline).
This time on behalf of CAAB Lindis held (Saturday 25 February 2012) an upside down US flag with the words “ATTACK IRAN? OH PLEASE….DON’T’ at the gates of the US embassy. The armed police inside the embassy (which she knew would be shut) asked her if she had obtained permission to protest – some mention about SOCPA talked about – which she queried. She gave them a CAAB newsletter for her name etc (one for the US embassy). They said the US embassy wanted to know how long she was going to be there etc which she did not know. These protests tend to take on a ‘life of their own’.
There were people passing – some very supportive and one in particular very angry -”Are you British? well you are a disgrace standing there with the flag upside down etc etc!” He wouldn’t of course wait while Lindis tried to tell him about establishing the use of the upside down US flag in 1998 in the High Court…nice conversations generally/photos taken and many thumbs up – two men were very pleased to have a photo of the fluttering US flag above the embassy and at the bottom the upside US flag in the same photo – originally from South Africa they were upset by the statue of Ronald Regan which is in Grosvenor Square.
Four members of the Diplomatic Protection Group arrived – again CAAB newsletter given to PC Bowitt. “I’m not going to move you on but the US embassy staff might insist as you have your fingers inside their property” (holding the railings while she displayed the flag)….nothing happened. Lindis folded up the flag and left after nearly three hours. It was so different to the last time she went.
Friends – it is really important not to be hassled and intimidated by the police (especially as they quote all sorts of dubious legislation at you) but to go back again and again to uphold the ‘right to protest’ and to bear witness. It was a small thing to do on a Saturday afternoon in these turbulent times.
CAAB Report No 253
Harrogate Magistrates’ Court
18 January 2012
R v Lindis Percy
Charged with alleged obstruction of three Ministry of Defence Police Agency officers
during an incident at the CAAB organised weekly Tuesday evening demonstration at the
American base at Menwith Hill near Harrogate North Yorkshire.
Hearing before Jane Goodwin – District Judge (DJ)
Simon Ostler – Crown Prosecutor Service (CPS)
Lindis Percy – litigant in person
This was the first day of the start of this trial – fixed for two days.
A legal advisor (a friend of Lindis’) who was to act as her McKenzie friend (someone who can advise and support a litigant in person but cannot address the court) was coming to stay the night. They were going to work on the case when he arrived. However, very unfortunately and worryingly he was involved in a road traffic accident on the way to Harrogate (a van had apparently skipped lights) and was in hospital with a head injury. He clearly was unable to come. Thankfully he was discharged that night and is recovering at home.
Two more witness statements had been sent by post to Lindis (delivered in the afternoon the day before the trial) and a further two items on another list of a Police Schedule of Unused Non-sensitive Material. On arrival at court she informed Simon Ostler that she would be applying to the DJ for both witnesses to attend as she did not accept their statements. She was told that one of the witnesses was present.
After lengthy discussions the DJ declined the applications (witness statement by James Sheardown Sergeant MDPA Menwith Hill who was the Control Room Supervisor stated that the CCTV evidence from a security camera (and which should have monitored the incident) was ‘checked and found to be facing away from the Main Gate’ and therefore there was nothing to ‘archive’). The DJ said that the witness who was present in court could be asked questions when she gave evidence.
Eventually the actual trial started. Simon Ostler outlined the case against Lindis. (There were not only factual matters involved but also important legal points involved). At a previous hearing the DJ had directed that both parties serve any legal authorities and documents to each other and the court. We had 14 days before trial to do this. (Lindis had done this well in advance). As Simon Ostler had ignored this direction which meant that Lindis had not got a copy of the Act quoted by Simon Ostler in his summary of his case (Anti Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 – which extended jurisdiction and powers of the Ministry of Defence Police Agency). Lindis made an application to the DJ that she be supplied with a copy of this Act and a copy of another amended Act (Ministry of Defence Police Act 1987) – also quoted by Simon Ostler. This was granted by the DJ. The court copied both these Acts for Lindis. The DJ adjourned for 15 minutes so that Lindis could study these two Acts.
When the DJ returned Lindis said to her “I can’t do this”. The DJ responded by saying “I have every sympathy with you Ms Percy”. Lindis went on to make an application for an adjournment so she could look at these Acts and seek legal advise. Simon Ostler was then severely reprimanded by the DJ for not once but twice ignoring her directions (and incidently a third time for ignoring the directions of two Magistrates at a previous hearing when the DJ could not be present to hear an application by Lindis because her directions had been ignored). Simon Ostler was also reprimanded for seriously wasting court time (the court would now stand empty for a day and a half), the 7 police officers had been unnecessarily taken away from their duties – as well as other impacts. She also said she had not received any apology from Simon Ostler. It was “wholly, wholly unacceptable”.
The DJ granted Lindis an adjournment and directed that a new date be set. She said she thought the trial would now take 2 and a half days. She also said that she would be seriously considering a ‘wasted costs order’ against the CPS and that Lindis should be prepared to submit a breakdown of her expenses incurred for today at the next hearing.
At the end the DJ asked Simon Ostler if the prosecution had been reviewed as being in the public interest. (This case is summary only – cases only heard in the Magistrates’ court). He responded by saying that he had discussed the case with his line manager. DJ Goodwin said that he had 14 days to decide whether the prosecution should be discontinued or go ahead – bearing in mind that it was now to be a three day trial.
Another date for trial was fixed for 17-19 April 2012 at Harrogate Magistrates Court before District Judge Goodwin.
Thank you so much to Christine Dean (who acted as McKenzie friend) and Jan Williams (who took notes) and everyone who came to court in support – also for all the kind and encouraging messages Lindis received which included friends from various corners of the world.
CAAB Report No 252
Friday 29 December 2011
R v Lindis Percy
Harrogate Magistrates’ Court
Charge: alleged obstruction of three Ministry of Defence Police Agency Officers
during weekly Tuesday evening demonstration – 16 August 2011
Before Ms Hersp and another (Magistrates)
Prosecution: Caroline Midgeley
Defence: Lindis Percy (Litigant in person)
Interim Hearing for Directions (applied for by Defence)
At the hearing on 21 November 2011 (refer to CAAB report No 249) District Judge Goodwin directed that the CPS supply the
CCTV evidence in a ‘viewable format’. A disc was sent to the Defence within the time limit. However it was unplayable on the Defence computer or laptop – being in American format. Having let the CPS know about this, some instructions were sent by Simon Ostler to the Defence. However the Defence was again not able to play the CCTV disc.
Lindis Percy had made an application to the court for this case to come back to court as the CPS had not complied with the DJ’s Directions. The DJ was unable to come to Harrogate Magistrates’ Court for the hearing and had instructed that this case to be heard before the Magistrates.
The above hearing was before two Magistrates. As Lindis Percy was called for this case, Caroline Midgeley (for CPS) requested an adjournment. She needed to make a ’phone call to her office as she did not know anything about this case. She spoke to Simon Ostler (CPS) who has management of this case, he was present at the hearing on 21 November 2011 when we viewed a section of the CCTV evidence on a laptop and he will prosecute at the trial.
As the hearing was the Defence application, Lindis Percy addressed the Magistrates and handed in a letter dated 12 December 2011. This explained the sequence of events and the reason why this hearing had been requested. She also handed in a copy of the amended Defence Case Statement, making reference to the section on the CCTV evidence – making the following points:
- 1) having viewed some of the CCTV recording she believed there was still more CCTV evidence to view (from the security camera which monitors the slip road in question)
- 2) that the CCTV evidence which we viewed in court on 21 November 2011 was selective; that she be given the whole of the CCTV evidence; making the point that any irrelevant sections could be ‘fast forwarded’. It was necessary to have all the CCTV evidence disclosed and not the selected part.
- 3) a simple solution would be that all the CCTV evidence be converted from the American version (NTSC to PAL) to a viewable format.
Ms Midgeley responded by echoing the chronology of what the Defence had told the Magistrates. She said that the disc was in American format and had been ‘encrypted and coded’. Simon Ostler, who she spoke to on the ‘phone had suggested that Lindis Percy could go to the office to view the CCTV recording and also that he would instruct the Ministry of Defence Police Agency (no representative in court) to bring ‘equipment’ so that the CCTV disc could be set up before the start of the trial on 18 January 2012.
The Defence objected to these suggestions on the grounds that:
- i) the District Judge had directed the CPS to provide the court and the Defence with a CCTV disc that was in a viewable format
- ii) the Defence needed to view in leisure and comfort of her own home thus allowing her to fully prepare her defence before trial
- iii) the Defence would not have been able to view the CCTV before the trial if Simon Ostler’s second suggestion was adopted
The Magistrates decided to again endorse the District Judge’s Direction that the CPS provide the CCTV recording in a ‘viewable format’ no later than 10.1.2012.
The Defence asked that it be on the court record that she believed a site visit might be helpful to the court.
Lindis has since written to the District Judge as at the end of the hearing she was left with some concerns:
- a) the CPS gave no credible reason (in her opinion) as to why the Direction of the DJ had not been complied with
- b) the Defence is somewhat sceptical as to whether all the CCTV evidence will be disclosed without directions
- c) the Defence acknowledge that the DJ said (at the last hearing) that she believed there was no more CCTV evidence. However having viewed the section of the alleged incident – which was clearly from another camera – the Defence believes there is more CCTV evidence which should be disclosed and which may assist my defence.
Thank you so much to Christine Dean and Paul Wood for note-taking and support.
CAAB Report No 251
Saturday 17 December 2011
CAAB has been a supporter of Bradley Manning for sometime. We are grateful that he spoke truth to power.
It was late notice for people (and just before Christmas) which meant that Lindis Percy was the only one present at the American base at NSA Menwith Hill – in solidarity with Bradley Manning whose pre-trial hearing had started in the US. It was also his 24th birthday. To coincide with these two important events there were many actions in support of him round the world.
Lindis stayed for about an hour at the main entrance to Menwith Hill holding an upside down US flag with the words “Thank you Bradley Manning”. The flag was left on the perimeter fence – a present for the American authorities on the base.
For up to date information of the pre-trial hearing see the Bradley Manning Support Network www.bradleymanning.org
CAAB Report No 250
Monday 21 November 2011
Harrogate Magistrates’ Court
R v Lindis Percy
Alleged charge: obstruction of three Ministry of Defence Police Agency (MDPA) officers in the execution of their duty outside the American base at Menwith Hill on 16 August 2011
Not guilty plea.
Case Management Review Hearing before District Judge Goodwin (DJ)
This was a review of the progress of the case.
Having submitted and received a Defence Case Statement (DCS) the DJ decided that she would hear the legal arguments pre-trial and also hear what progress if any, concerning the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to disclose the CCTV evidence of the incident.
The American authorities had refused to release this. The Ministry of Defence Police Agency and the Prosecution had previously said that there was nothing on the CCTV footage which would be of assistance to the defence as the incident in question was obscured by a hedge. (Please note: NSA Menwith Hill is a high security American base surrounded by CCTV cameras).
Lindis was not convinced by these explanations. She made an application to the DJ for disclosure of the CCTV evidence. An employee from Menwith Hill was in court with the CCTV footage in case the defence application was successful. After hearing Lindis respond to
Simon Ostler’s (CPS) reasons why it should not be disclosed the DJ ruled that the video should be shown. It was shown from a lap top computer. This was because the CCTV footage was in American format and so could not be shown on the court video system.
After viewing the CCTV evidence twice the DJ ruled that it would assist the defence and directed the CPS to disclose to the defence and the court the CCTV footage which was to be in a viewable format within 14 days.
Lindis then addressed the DJ concerning the legal arguments which revolved around whether the MDPA were constables within the meaning of the Police Act 1996 (under which she is charged).
The DJ found that it appeared that they were constables within the meaning of the Police Act 1996 – although she also indicated that she may alter her position after she had heard further legal arguments at trial concerning the powers and jurisdiction of the MDPA.
The DJ directed Lindis to file an amended DSC within 28 days with a response from the CPS within 14 days of receipt and that both parties were to submit copies of any legislation they will use within 14 days of this hearing.
The DJ amended the time expected the trial would take. A date was fixed at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court on 18 and 19 January 2012.
CAAB Report No 249
Monday 10 October 2011
Harrogate Magistrates’ Court
R v Lindis Percy – alleged obstruction of three Ministry of Defence Police Agency (MDPA) officers at NSA Menwith Hill – 16 August 2011
CASE MANAGEMENT HEARING
The application at the last hearing (20 September 2011) for a District Judge to hear the case was successful. Mrs Goodwin will hear all stages of this case and will be the presiding District Judge at trial.
Outcome of hearing:
CPS witnesses – Lindis requires all the Prosecution witnesses (6 MDPA officers to give evidence). Melanie Ndzinga is the Defence witness.
Mrs Goodwin directed Lindis to submit a Defence Statement within 14 days (for further diclosure under the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 – amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2003) and to set out her defence.
The CPS to provide a Skeleton argument within 14 days of receipt of the Defence Statement.
Date of next hearing to review progress: 21 November 2011 at 10am
A provisional date was fixed for trial on 18 January 2012 at 10 am.
CAAB Report No 248
Tuesday 4 October 2011
Every year, since 2000, CAAB has responded to the call for a week of international protest
by the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (gGN) against the
US Missile Defense System – KEEP SPACE FOR PEACE week this year is 1-8 October 2011.
We had originally planned to have this event on Saturday 1 October 2011.
However we were informed by Yorkshire CND that they planned a demonstration on Saturday
16 October 2011. As the demonstrations were too close together we decided to incorporate into
the weekly Tuesday evening protest (6-8 pm) and focus on the US Missile Defense and war fighting in space -
including the alarming increase in the use of ‘drones’.
About 20 people attended – which was excellent considering the dark evenings and weather that we could
not be sure about. We had ‘the Alternative Tea Party’ – with tea, cakes and the alternative (and true!) view
about the US Missile Defense System. A message of solidarity from Oxford Peace Group, who had a demonstration at USAF
Croughton on 1 October 2001 was read out.
Thank you so much to everyone who came and also who helped.
CAAB Report No 247
Harrogate Magistrates’ Court
Case Management hearing
Tuesday 20 September 2011
R v Lindis Percy
Alleged obstruction of Ian Proud, Howard Shields and PC Mathiya in the execution of their duty (Ministry of Defence Police Agency at the US base at Menwith Hill.
Please refer below for the history of this case.
At this Case Management hearing Lindis asked that all documents and statements were made available to her.
The papers arrived by post the day before (at the first hearing her name was not on the court list and no papers were available – despite writing to the Crown Prosecution Service for disclosure of all documents two day after charge). Not all prosecution witness statements were included in the bundle – for example there was no statement from the third officer who Lindis allegedly obstructed and pages of certain documents were missing. The court directed that the CPS supply this before the next hearing.
Lindis had requested to be supplied with a copy of the CCTV evidence. Mrs Varlow (CPS) said that this was not forthcoming as the US authorities have refused to release it. This will be pursued. Lindis had already made a request under the Data Protection Act 1998.
An application by Lindis was made that a District Judge be appointed to hear the case at trial. The reasons she gave were because of significant legal arguments and disputed facts surrounding the circumstances of the arrest. The court agreed to make the application to the Lord Chancellor’s Office.
Joe McKenzie (Ministry of Defence Police Agency Intelligence officer at Menwith Hill) was again present at the back of the court.
Lindis was granted unconditional bail. There will be a further Case Management hearing on Monday 10 October 2011 at 11 am when we may know if the application for a District Judge to preside at trial has been agreed.
Joint Coordinator with Melanie Ndzinga
CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACCOUNTABILITY OF AMERICAN BASES – CAAB
CAAB report no: 246
It was a Tuesday – the day when this terrible event happened – 11 September 2001.
As it was a Tuesday CAAB was at the US base at Menwith Hill for the weekly Tuesday evening demonstration. We displayed no upside US flags of course but wore black arm bands instead and stood in silence for the duration of the demonstration. We handed in a card to the US Commander expressing our sympathy and brought flowers which we put put on the fence. There were so many other flowers already there. CAAB has acknowledged the anniversary of the dreadful happenings on 11 September 2001 for most years since. We have stood in silence displaying a banner which says “Remembering All the Victims of All Terrorism”.
We were at Menwith Hill on the 10th anniversary for a silent vigil (10 – 11 am). We handed in a bunch of lovely white garden roses and white hydrangeas and a card addressed to Michelle Clays (US Commander in charge at Menwith Hill and all her staff) from CAAB. We held the banner, a peace flag and lit a candle.
During the vigil a woman drove into the base (she was not challeged) and tied two bunches of flowers on to a post at the entrance to the base. One of the bunches of flowers were red roses. It was extremely windy as she struggled to tie them on. All the petals blew away and were scattered – red on the road towards us as we silently stood there. It was a poignant moment.
CAAB report no: 245
6 September 2011
Harrogate Magistrates’ Court
A ‘plea’ hearing (guilty or not guilty) was on this date (re CAAB report 244). Lindis Percy’s name was not on the court list (despite being bailed to appear) and no papers were available. She waited 2 and a quarter hours before being ‘slotted’ into the list. The case was adjourned to 20 September 2011 at 2 pm when there will be a Case Management hearing and hopefully the papers (CPS witness statements etc etc) will be available. She had written to the CPS two days after charge requesting the papers.
CAAB Report no 244
Tuesday 16 August 2011
During the weekly Tuesday evening CAAB demonstration Lindis Percy was arrested by Ian Proud (Ministry of Defence Police Agency) for allegedly obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty.
She and Melanie Ndzinga were talking to some young men in a car who had stopped to ask questions. Two North Yorkshire Police officers from the Counter Terrorism Unit arrived.
Lindis was taken to Harrogate Police Station and charged under s 89 (2) Police Act 1996. She was released on unconditional bail and is to appear at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court on 6 September 2011. She will plead not guilty.
Lindis Percy and Melanie Ndzinga
CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACCOUNTABILITY OF AMERICAN BASES – CAAB
PS Please come and join the weekly Tuesday evening demonstration (6-8 pm) outside the US intelligence gathering and surveillance base at Menwith Hill (UK). What goes on there is concerning, affects us all and is therefore all our issue.
Annual Independence FROM America demonstration, NSA Menwith Hill
CAAB Report no 243
Monday 4 July 2011
For the American people 4 July means Independence Day. For many others it means the annual Independence FROM America demonstration – outside the main entrance to Menwith Hill. This year the weather was lovely.
Over 100 people came to this demonstration. Martin Schweiger (doctor, Quaker and activist) introduced the day. He said that he had written (on behalf of CAAB) to the Louis Susman (US Ambassador in London), Michelle Clays (US base Commander at Menwith Hill) and Patrick Currie (RAF Liaison officer) inviting them to come to the demonstration and speak about the base from their point of view. A stamped addressed envelop was included.
No response was forthcoming from Louise Susman or Michelle Clays. However Patrick Currie did reply by saying ‘it was not MOD policy to participate in such events’ adding ‘please note that RAF Menwith Hill is a British base and all activities within the base fully accountable to the British government’. (The only aspect that is accountable to the British government is that the land is in the possession of the Secretary of State for Defence).
We were invited by Martin to turn our backs on the base and to stand for two minutes silence, looking out on to the glorious Yorkshire Dales to remember all those who had been killed, injured or made homeless by the ongoing conflicts such as in Iraq, Afghanistan and the struggles known as the ‘Arab Spring’.
Peter Kenyon and Joan West (East Lancs CND) read the Peoples Declaration for Independence FROM America’ (please refer to link). We walked a short way along the diverted footpath and on to the first gate (replacing Nessfield Gate) where Lindis Percy and Mike Davies gave some brief information about the base.
Back to the main entrance where we were entertained with lovely singing by the Clarion choir from East Lancs CND. Roy Bailey (socialist folk singer) kindly came for the third year running – singing and playing in his wonderful way.
We had three excellent speakers this year. Peter Tatchell (Human Rights activist) who said it was time the UK reclaimed its sovereignty and instead of uncritically following Washington, Britain should chart its own independent foreign policy, promoting international peace, disarmament, cooperation, development and global justice. “We, the British people, need welfare, not warfare.” He spoke movingly about Bradley Manning – the US soldier who has been in prison for over a year for allegedly leaking thousands of US documents to WikiLeaks.
John Sloboda (Co-founder of Iraq Body Count and Director of the Oxford Research Organisation Recording of the Casualties of Armed Conflicts programme). Read John Sloboda’s speech here.
Yvonne Ridley (journalist, convert to Islam and activist) illustrated her speech, carrying a bag of rocks and a bottle from key locations. They were from the fall of the Berlin Wall, a popular movement of the people and the greatest event in the history of the Cold War which was completely missed by US Intelligence. She produced a stone from Tahir Square in Cario – another large popular movement. Two days prior to the occupation of the square Hilary Clinton declared that Egypt was stable and there would be no revolution there – another US Intelligence failure. A stone from Benghazi in Libya was another revolution missed by US Intelligence. She took out of her bag a blackened bottle from Sudan. It came from the ruins of the Al- Shifa pharmaceutical factory, which was bombed by the US on 20 August 1998. The missile attack came two days after the US media started to carry stories about Monica Lewinski and President Clinton. The loss of the factory resulted in a serious loss of access to modern pharmaceuticals in Africa, probably resulting in many deaths. “US Intelligence is not always intelligent” she said.
Then the wonderful sound, humour and energy of Les Vagus and the International Boys of Rhythm – blasting out their amazing sound! People danced and thoroughly enjoyed their music. The demonstration ended on an energetic note with Samba Tigers – both these groups had not visited Menwith Hill before.
We have lots of people to thank. Thank you to all the speakers and musicians who came , to Steve Hill, Chris Chanter who comes to assemble the PA system and to Dusty Rhodes (of Raise the Roof) who very kindly and generously has loaned the equipment for the day for many years. We say a special thank you to Sarah Dean who produced the original art work ‘Blow the Whistle on Menwith Hill’ and then produced the mugs, tea shirts and bags to sell on the CAAB stall. CAAB would like to thank North Yorkshire Police and the Ministry of Defence Police Agency who kindly supplied bottles of water – after we learnt that Andrew from Fish&…..was unable to come as the cooking part of the van had broken down. The numbers of police at the demonstration was the lowest ever – minimalist and at long last sensibly and proportionately policed! The few NYP officers who were present (on cycles) were courteous and very helpful.
PLEASE NOTE: There is a demonstration every Tuesday evening (3-8 pm) outside the main entrance to Menwith Hill’.
On Tuesday 4 October 2011 we will be organising an event for ‘Keep Space for Peace‘ week – called for by the Global Network Against Weapons and Power in Space.
Arrest at US Embassy in London
CAAB Report no 242
Friday 1 July 2011
Demonstration outside the US embassy in London
Afterwards and mindful that 4 July was coming up, Lindis went to the US embassy in Grosvenor Square. She quietly and peacefully stood in front of the fence which now surrounds the embassy and under the iconic American eagle – on the roof of the building. She was holding the upside down US flag with the words ‘Independence FROM America’ written on it.
Very soon an armed officer inside the fence arrived. He wanted to know how long Lindis was going to be there and what was written on the flag? He alerted someone. Two armed officers from the Metropolitan Diplomatic Police Group (SO6) arrived. PC Maycock asked if Lindis had permission to be there. She replied she did not need permission to peacefully demonstrate.
He said anyone demonstrating within half a mile of Parliament had to obtain permission. She thought he may be referring to s.132 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.
As she declined to move PC Maycock chose to arrest Lindis for an alleged ‘breach of the peace’ – saying that ‘many Americans are offended by your presence and the use of the US flag – upside down’. After seeking instructions PC Maycock told Lindis that he was de arresting her. He said that she must not go back. She went back to the original spot and was again arrested by PC Maycock for…alleged ‘breach of the peace’. She was roughly handcuffed and told that a van would come to take her to a police station.
Clearly seeking instructions PC Maycock then further arrested her for an alleged offence under section 14 – Public Order Act.
Lindis was taken to Belgravia Police station. Sergeant Parker was told by PC Maycock the reasons for the arrest. Lindis quietly told him that she thought both reasons were questionable. The officers all consulted the computer.
Lindis was quickly told by the Custody Sergeant that he was releasing her as the ‘breach of the peace had now passed’. On the matter of s.14 (Public Order Act 1984) he said that the officer was right but that he was going to release her.
No custody record had been opened during this time and Sergeant Parker had not asked Lindis for any details eg her name or address.
She asked for a copy of the custody record. He said that she would have to write in to get a copy. She had just started to write a letter asking for a copy of the non existent custody record when he told PC Maycock to escort her out of the custody area.
Lindis wrote a letter to Sergeant Parker when she was released. She asked PC Shoor on the desk in the public office of the police station to give it to him.
Before leaving she asked PC Shoor if she may have a copy of the letter.
1. Percy v Director of Public Prosecutions
Queen’s Bench Divison – LJ Balcombe and Collins 1994
Held: For a ‘breach of the peace” to occur a person must be threatening violence or is actually violent.
2. Percy v Director of Public Prosecutions
Queen’s Bench Division LJ Kennedy and Mrs Justice Hallett 2001
A conviction for using threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour likely to cause harassment alarm or distress, contrary to section 5
of the Public Order Act 1986, where the claimant defaced the flag of the United States was incompatible with article 10 of the European Convention
on Human Rights.
3. CAAB uses the upside down US flag as a symbol of protest
4. There are no grounds for arrest in the above situation citing s.14 Public Order Act 1984.
Lindis will be seeking advice with a view to taking legal action.
Acquital at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court on April 5, 2011
CAAB Report no 242
Tuesday 5 April 2011
Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court
R v Lindis Percy
Trial for alleged offence: section 128 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) 2005
(Decision to prosecute are made by the Attorney General)
Heard before David Cooper (District Judge)
Prosecutor – Ms Booth (Barrister)
Defendant – Lindis Percy (litigant in person)
On 30 October 2009 at about 12.45 pm Lindis walked into USAF Mildenhall via Gate 1, showed her driving license to US security (Kyler Sherman Brown) at the guard gate. He took it, examined it front and back and said: “O.K Mam – there you go – have a nice day”. She was on the base unchallenged for about an hour and was making her way out when she was recognised by Richard Fryer (RAF Liaison officer at Mildenhall) who alerted Robert Curtis (Ministry of Defence Police Agency officer). She was arrested and taken to Bury St Edmunds Police station and eventually released on conditional bail.
Just before the 6 months were up the Attorney General – at the time Baroness Scotland – made the decision to bring this prosecution. There have been many Case Management hearings and difficulties because of Orders being ignored by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) , delays in disclosures, letters not being responded to by the CPS , the US authorities taking a long time to release the CCTV footage and witnesses being flown back to the US – so delaying the trial.
The trial was originally fixed for 8 November 2010. However the date had to be vacated as Kyler Sherman Brown had been flown back to the US. He was not available until the end of January 2011. Two other witnesses had also been flown back to the US and would not be available until August 2011 (apparently serving in Afghanistan).
The case was fixed for two days. David Cooper (DJ) agreed at the previous hearing to hear, as a preliminary issue, an application by Lindis for the case to be stayed (abuse of process). On the day however the DJ said that he would go straight into the trial as there would probably be questions needing to be asked of the witnesses by Lindis.
Lindis’s defence was that she was on a public footpath and had been given permission by Kyler Sherman Brown to go onto the base – therefore she could not be committing an offence under SOCPA. The road into the base was not covered by SOCPA. However one of the difficulties facing Lindis was that in his statement Kyler Sherman Brown denied ever seeing Lindis and certainly did not authorise her entry. The CCTV footage of the incident only showed Lindis putting a foot through the gate. There was no apparent footage of the guard gate area (which was surprising) given that this was a gate entry. There was further footage of Lindis seen walking on the base however.
The CPS called five witnesses. Robert Curtis (MDPA) was the first witness followed by Richard Fryer (RAF Liaison officer). Kyler Sherman Brown had apparently that day just been flown in from Nevada (where he is now posted). Under cross examination by Lindis he denied all knowledge of ever seeing her or giving her permission to enter the base. She reminded him that he was under oath and that he had in fact done just that. He denied all questions put to him by Lindis about the truth of what actually happened. At the end of the cross examination she said: “It seems to me that you are either incompetent or not telling the truth – which is it?” He said he was neither incompetent or complacent.
There were two other US witnesses, one being Mika Byrd who ‘archived’ the CCTV footage. She said that the camera at the gate did monitor the guard gate and ‘quite a long way up the road’. She said had produced all the CCTV footage. After being cross examined there were still concerns as to where was the footage covering the gate area and beyond. This was crucial to Lindis’s defence as it would show that Kyler Sherman Brown did let her through.
Cross examined by Lindis, Tavarus Melton (US Security Flight Chief and ‘tasked’ to interview Kyler Sherman Brown) said that ‘someone monitoring the camera thought an intruder had been let in’. It was a significant incident (in the scale of 1-10 – rated 10). He said when questioned further that Kyler Sherman Brown had been disciplined for not giving ‘giving enough attention to detail’ because ‘you had entered the base’. Kyler Sherman Brown had said that he did not see her go through the gate as he was busy with another person.
Lindis then gave evidence and told it as it had happened. Ms Booth attempted to get her to agree that her intention was to test the security and that she had ‘sneaked’ in under the ‘cover of a lorry’. Lindis said that she entered the base to continue her research. She said that she had entered the base on the footpath – she had been asked for ID by Kyler Sherman Brown, she showed it to him, he carefully examined it and gave her permission to continue into the base.
At the end of her evidence Lindis made an application for ‘no case to answer’. The DJ said he had ‘got what the issue is now’ and went straight on to read out his decision. He said that Kyler Sherman Brown was a ‘good man – an honorable man who served his country’. He said however that ‘like any human being he ‘reran the incident to make it look rather different’. He knew he would be in ‘hot water’ and ‘being human may have blotted out this incident’. His statement was made a month later. The DJ said ‘anyone listening to Ms Percy would believe her’. He said she was not a trespasser – she was permitted to go in’. The CPS had not proved their case. He dismissed the charge and awarded costs to Lindis.
Thank you so much to Lesley Graham who acted as McKenzie Ffriend, to Danine and Richie who kindly supported throughout the day and to Frances Taylor (Solicitor) for the helpful advice she gave.
Update of further Case Management hearing on 18 January 2011 at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court
CAAB Report no 241
Alleged offence against Lindis Percy
s.128 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
The CPS handed a letter and album of photographs (of Lincoln Road area at USAF Mildenhall) as Lindis Percy walked into court. The letter was from the CPS in response to a letter written by Lindis Percy. She was informed there was no more CCTV evidence. Despite being ordered by DJC at the last hearing that the CPS had to address every question and request for further CCTV evidence and a list of documents the CPS have still not produced all.
Lindis addressed District Judge Cooper (DJC) by saying she was deeply troubled by the progress of this case and in particular the apparent with holding of evidence. She said there was or is more CCTV evidence. She reminded DJC of the length of time (among other difficulties) the case has taken so far – and still no date for trial. She applied for a hearing for the case to be stayed on the grounds of abuse of process.
DJC agreed to the application and said this would be a prelimiary issue at trial. The CPS solicitor meanwhile informed the court that Kyler Sherman Brown (who let Lindis pass into the base with her driving license as ID) was ordered to be on ‘standby’ and would be flown back to the UK sometime after 24 January 2011. She also said however that two US witnesses (USAF) would not be available until August 2011 – both were out of the UK and ‘deployed’. One US ‘security police’ would be leaving the USAF in August 2011.
A date was set for trial on 5/6 April 2011 at 10 am at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court.
Update of hearing on 6 December 2010 at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court
CAAB report no 240
R v Lindis Percy
Alleged offence: incident at USAF Mildenhall on 30 October 2010 (section 128 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005) – please refer to CAAB report 239
Before District Judge Cooper
District Judge Cooper thanked Lindis Percy for the ‘very interesting’ letter which she had copied to him. She had sent a letter to the CPS with a list of questions to be answered concerning the issue of the incomplete CCTV video recording (property of the US authorities) and crucial evidence in this case. District Judge Cooper ordered the CPS to address each question by 10 January 2011. Also in the letter was a list of documents requesting disclosure.
The District Judge made reference to the ‘third party’ (the American authorities) and indicated that he could not compell them to release information. This was somewhat surprising considering that this was a British court and the US authorities are also a party in these proceedings.
District Judge Cooper wanted to set a date for trial but as Kyler Sherman Brown (USAF security forces) is still out of the country this was not possible.
There will be another Case Management hearing on 17 January 2011 at 2 pm Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court.
Update of case
CAAB Report no: 239
R v Lindis Percy
Alleged offence – section 128 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Attorney General’s decision to prosecute) – an alleged trespass on a ‘designated’ site.
Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court – District Judge Cooper hearing each stage of the case
(This case arose out of an incident at the United States Air Force base at Mildenhall, Suffolk
on 30 October 2009) [See CAAB Report 236, below]
There have been many Case Management hearings and certain difficulties since the decision of the Attorney General (Baroness Scotland) to bring a prosecution (signed on 9 April 2010 – nearly 6 months after the alleged offence).
The Crown Prosecution Service was ordered twice by the District Judge to produce documents and the CCTV video evidence. There have been difficulties obtaining the CCTV video recordings as this is the property of the US authorities and is in an American format so has to be converted to UK format.
Lindis Percy was ordered to submit a Skeleton argument by the District Judge but as she had not received the CCTV video evidence she was unable to do so within the date ordered. She wrote to the District Judge informing him of this difficulty.
On 25 October 2010 a Defence Skeleton argument was submitted. An application for ‘hearsay’ evidence to be read in court (without the key witness of the CPS being present in court) was refused by the District Judge after an objection by Lindis Percy. The key witness is Kyler Sherman Brown (Senior Airman US Security Forces). He has been flown back to the US (we are not sure when) and has now been deployed to ?Afghanistan. The US authorites have said Kyler Sherman Brown will be flown back to the UK to give evidence when he returns.
The date for trial was originally fixed for 8 November 2010 but because of the absence of Kyler Sherman Brown the date has been vacated. A new date for trial was unable to be fixed. The next Case Management hearing is at 2 pm on 6 December 2010 at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court.
Keep Space For Peace Week (2-9 October 2010)
CAAB Report no: 238
CAAB has organised this demonstration for 10 years. The demonstration is specifically about the US Missile Defense system and joined with many actions going on round the world. Menwith Hill is the key to Missile Defense.
We changed the format of this year’s demonstration, partly because in the past the weather has been atrocious and not conducive for speakers, musicians, food and demonstrators. We also wanted to do something new.
About 40 – 50 people came with about 10 people attending the Quaker Meeting for Worship (held on the first Saturday of the month, alternating with Fylingdales). It was a glorious sunny warm day. Some people dressed in white disposable suits and wore faceless white masks (the Invisibles) to symbolically make the point that decisions about Missile Defense are made by faceless invisible people, it is operated by faceless and invisible people, is difficult to get accountability and the system operates in space – invisibly.
The police were invisible too; apart from Dave Tetley (PC Liaison officer from Pateley Bridge – a rural area). He kindly helped us walk along the A59 road by driving behind the single line of demonstrators, in a van with flashing blue lights. When we turned off this road to continue walking round the base, he disappeared.
For years the police presence (at the two main demonstrations CAAB organises) has been excessive. It must have cost a fortune. It was very welcome and refreshing that we could demonstrate without being hemmed in by police, videoed intrusively by police, harassed, alarmed and distress by van loads of police, police horses and police on cycles…and that’s was on the outside of the base! Inside the Ministry of Defence Police Agency were kept within the base – foot patrols, on quad bikes, dog handlers and vans driving around.
Many motorists hooted in support as we walked round the base. When we got to the main entrance we stood in a long line across the entrance (some people with their feet just over the yellow line!). We silently faced into the base holding banners, upside down US flags (KEEP SPACE FOR PEACE) and ‘PEACE’ flags.
About 4 MDPA officers from the Divisonal Support Group from York came to say (shouting and aggressive) that we were obstructing the highway, that we had to move and threatening arrests. We said that we would move when Michelle Clays (US Commander) came to receive the letter we had written to hand in. She was also invisible as was any subtitute American.
After about 10 minutes with some officers clearly unable to cope or know what to do about the situation, David Ranson (Inspector MDPA) received the letter and assured us that it would be handed to Michelle Clays.
One person attending the Quaker Meeting for Worship later made a complaint about the armed officer who was standing too near the Meeting and provocatively ‘stroking’ his gun in an alarming and disturbing way. This was very upsetting for several people. It is also very disappointing and frustrating to CAAB who has raised the question of the armed officer being too close to the peaceful protests. Three complaints have just been investigated on this very issue.
Thank you to everyone who came and made such an effective visible and unusual presence.
Sadly Laila Packer (Coordinator) was unable to come.
Out-of-court settlement won
CAAB Report no: 237
Yorkshire Evening Post
Friday, 16th July 2010
By Peter Lazenby
A Yorkshire peace campaigner has won an out-of-court settlement from a United States airman over a claim that he assaulted her while she was making a protest at a US base.
Lindis Percy, 67, of Harrogate, is co-ordinator of the Campaign for Accountability of American Bases. The group is opposed to United States bases in Britain and campaigns for their removal. One target is the intelligence-gathering base at Menwith Hill, outside Harrogate, where US personnel gather military, political and economic information from satellites circling the earth.
In February 2006, Ms Percy was at a US base at Croughton in Northamptonshire. She claimed she was accosted by American military personnel, and she said she was assaulted by a US airman. Ms Percy, who is a former midwife and health visitor, claimed as a result she suffered facial palsy for six weeks.
An application to bring private summonses against the airman and two Ministry of Defence police officers in February 2007 was refused by Corby Magistrates. Ms Percy then won a judicial review in the High Court in London. Two senior judges ordered Corby magistrates to issue the summons, but the case could not proceed because the American authorities entered a Certificate of Immunity.
In February last year Ms Percy took out a civil claim against the airman. In March 2010 he offered to settle the case with costs out of court. Ms Percy accepted £700 and costs, and donated the £700 to her campaign group.
Ms Percy said: “We expect the Ministry of Defence Police to use their authority and insist that they take control of any incidents involving peaceful British people.”
Ms Percy has been arrested hundreds of times, fined and imprisoned for her protests at US military bases in Britain.
Order ignored by CPS
CAAB Report no: 236
13 July 2010
R v Lindis Percy
Alleged offence under Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 – section 128
In a hearing on 8 June 2010 Mr Cooper ordered that the CPS produce all documents and CCTV recordings within 28 days requested by Lindis in a letter dated 1 June 2010. No documents or CCTV recordings have been received.
At a hearing (applied for by Lindis) on 13 July 2010 Ms James (assistant prosecutor for the CPS) said that there was ‘difficulty with the CCTV format (the format is an American format and always has to be converted). She also said that the ‘reviewing’ lawyer would review the material probably by next week. Ms James added that if the reviewing lawyer or a replacement lawyer were ‘off sick’ this may not be possible. Lindis argued that the DJ had made an Order therefore there was no need to review the material.
Mr Cooper again ordered that the CPS produce all material within 28 days. Lindis requested that a District Judge be appointed for the trial as there were interesting matters of law involved. Mr Cooper agreed. Ms James requested that a skeleton argument be produced by the defence before the trial.
Lindis applied for a ‘wasted costs order’ and will produce a breakdown of her travel costs for this hearing to Mr Cooper.
The trial is listed for 8 November 2010 at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court.
First hearing at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court
CAAB Report no: 235
11 May 2010
Alleged offences under s.128 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (refer to CAAB report 234) and breach of bail
Lindis Percy appeared at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court to find that the case was not on the court list (she had travelled from Yorkshire the day before)and no disclosures were available. Lindis wrote to the court requesting primary disclosure on 25 April 2010. She received no response from the Crown Prosecution Service.
District Judge Cooper (who said he had met Lindis several years before when he had dealt with one of her cases) was somewhat perplexed and displayed annoyance at the lack of anyone knowing anything about this case. He said “there was one stumbling block after another”.
After a short adjournment so that Tess James (Associate Prosecutor) made enquiries to the CPS Lindis gave reasons why she had failed to attend police bail on 12 April 2010 (refer to CAAB reports). She handed a copy of the chronology of events from her arrest on 30 October 2009 to being arrested at home on 13 April 2010.
Lindis said to Mr Cooper that the case had not been of the ‘right ordering’. He agreed. For failure to attend police bail he ruled an ‘absolute discharge’.
Lindis pleaded ‘not guilty’ for the alleged offence under SOCPA. The District Judge asked why this case could not be tranferred to Harrogate Magistrates’ Court. This was opposed by Ms James because she said the witnesses would have to travel to Harrogate and that it had never been done before in Suffolk.
Mr Cooper ordered that the CPS provide Lindis with primary disclosure within 7 days. The next hearing (Case management hearing) will be on 8 June at 2 pm at Bury Magistrates’ Court.
Arrested at home
CAAB Report no: 234
13 April 2010
Failure to attend police bail at Bury St Edmunds on 12 April 2010 resulted in the arrest of Lindis Percy. She has never deliberately not attended bail (police or court bail for years of arrests) so this was carefully thought out and documented as to the lengths she went to, to try to get the bail conditions varied (see CAAB report 233) and to find out the decision of the Attorney General. This case has been going on since October last year with continual renewals of the bail conditions.
Two Ministry of Defence Police Agency officers came to Lindis’s house where she was arrested and taken to Harrogate Police Station. She was charged with breach of bail and section 128 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. She was released over four hours later – this time on unconditional bail.
The next court date is at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court on 11 May 2010 at 10 am.
Arrest at USAF Mildenhall
CAAB Report no: 233
Lindis Percy was arrested at USAF Mildenhall in October last for an alleged offence under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 section 128. Bail conditions were imposed by Bury St Edmunds Police. Lindis attended the Police Station a month later.
No proceedings for an offence under this section can be instituted except by or with the consent of the Attorney General. To date there has been charge.
Brief update on Claim against US serviceman
CAAB Report no: 232
A Claim by way of the Small Claims civil court was lodged at Harrogate County Court on 23 February 2009 against First Class Airman Frank Macdonald (US serviceman based at USAF Croughton). Please refer to CAAB archives report 118: 19 February 2006.
The case arose from this incident when the Defendant assaulted Lindis Percy. Two Ministry of Defence Police Agency officers stood by while this happened. Lindis Percy brought a private prosecution against the three in 2008. However a Certificate of Immunity was entered into the court by the Defendant which stopped the case.
The Defendant changed his solicitor three times; eventually being represented by the Treasury Solicitors. The case was transferred from Harrogate to Oxford County Court.
The Claim by Lindis Percy is for injuries and trauma caused by the Defendant (£1000). There was a Case Management hearing on 4 January 2010 before District Judge Matthews at Oxford County Court. The situation at present is that Lindis Percy has informed the Defendant that she would be willing to try to resolve the matter by way of mediation.
The legal road to bring First Class Frank Macdonald to account continues.
Saturday 3 October 2009 – ‘Keep Space for Peace’ demonstration
CAAB Report no: 231
Since 2000 CAAB has responded to the call by the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (‘Keep Space for Peace’) for a week of international protest by the Global Network Against Weapons and Power in Space (‘Keep Space for Peace’). The specific focus this year was the use of space involving Unmanned Arial Vehicles (‘drones) in war fighting which have caused high numbers of deaths and injuries of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This year we invited Yorkshire CND to help with the organisation.
For the second year we moved from the main entrance to Menwith Hill to the Kettlesing Layby (on the A59 Harrogate to Skipton Road – which runs past Menwith Hill). The weather was even worse than last year with gale force winds, making it difficult to display banners, flags etc and impossible to even attempt to put up a gazebo. Despite the atrocious weather about 40 people came from Burnley, York, Bradford and Sheffield.
Martin Schweiger (Quaker, doctor and peace activist) hosted the event. Steve Hill (Daftasadrum) did a splendid drumming workshop and Sarah Cartin (Yorkshire CND) spoke about the current race for space. Messages were read out from Lindis Percy (unable to be present), from a similar demonstration happening at USAF Croughton and from a CND Welsh member who was unable to attend about ‘drones’. Dave Bevan supplied delicious food in really difficult conditions!
Diana Wallace (MEP Yorkshire and the Humber) questioned why it was necessary to get planning permission and accountability for windmills but not for the US Missile Defense installations and the pressing need to put money where it will really make a difference.
The police presence this year was inconspicuous and ‘low key’ – a marked contrast to previous years – thank you to North Yorkshire police for this welcome change in ‘policing’ peaceful protests.
Thank you so much to all who helped to organise, participate and attend this important demonstration.
Sunday 9 August 2009 – anniversary of the dropping of nuclear weapons on Nagasaki.
CAAB report no: 230
There was a silent vigil by CAAB at the American base to mark the day when the US used nuclear weapons on the people of Nagasaki; the first time was on 6 August 1945 on Hiroshima. The vigil lasted exactly one hour. The paper banner read: ’9 August 1945 – remembering Nagaski’. 80,000 people were killed on this day with many more injured and suffering lasting effects.
A Disturbing and Regular Abuse of Power at NSA Menwith Hill
At 6pm on Tuesday 2nd of June 2009 a group of like minded people met up outside the main gates to the American Base, Menwith Hill for the usual weekly demonstration organised by the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB), as we have done for many years, in fact every Tuesday for over nine years.
This week we decided to have a small BBQ and enjoy the sunshine. Consequently a few extra people attended the demonstration. There were 13 of us in all, including my own 10 month old, daughter and two other young children.
It was clear on arrival that our numbers were causing tension amongst the three Divisional Support Group (DSG) officers who are brought in to police the demonstration each week. In fact extra officers were brought in to help police the demonstration. 1O Ministry of Defence Police Agency (MDPA) officers, three of which were armed with semi automatic weapons, and two guard dogs with handlers in all. After no incidents we packed up and left as usual at 8pm.
As I left the main gate I was followed by the MDPA. They are paid for and under the operational control of the US Visiting Forces (Memorandum of Agreement 2008 which is on the CAAB website under Judgments and Documents). As I reached the A59, where they would normally turn back towards the base, I was joined by another MDPA Landrover which followed me for several miles along the road to Otley, in close proximity until I got to the Sun Inn car park where I pulled in to let it pass. I then set off again behind it. A few miles further along a North Yorkshire Police Volvo turned up behind me with flashing lights and sirens and I and the car behind me were ‘shepherded’ in to some land between the two vehicles. They then asked me a series of questions in the back of their car as to who owned the car etc. It was then decided and explained to me that I had been stopped under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005, SOCPA) and it was completely random, unconnected with the demonstration in any way and they wanted to check my documents and the vehicle. I then spoke to a MDPA officer from the Landrover who told me that actually I had been pulled over because he had radioed the Volvo to help them, as I had pulled in at the car park to let him past. I explained it was because I found it very intimidating to be followed so closely by men with semi automatic weapons. It wasn’t a random stop at all according to him. It was another blatant example of how laws are regularly being abused and used incorrectly to intimidate and repress lawful protest. I was then given a bit of paper ordering me to take my documents to a police station of my choice within seven days and sent on my way.
I find it quite amazing that all four men failed to notice that I had a brake light out!
However, the sad truth is that this is by no means an isolated or even rare incident. The police agencies involved with Menwith Hill have continued to attempt to intimidate and abuse those attending the weekly demonstrations for years, manipulating laws in hope that they will deter us in our objectives and legal right to protest outside the base. Their methods have ranged from imposing ridiculous bail conditions, the application for an ASBO against Lindis Percy, who coordinates CAAB with myself, that cited she ‘frightened and intimidated young children’, the continued use of SOCPA and numerous arrests under ‘aggravated trespass’ (which was never meant to be used against peaceful protestors but is instead used as a form of bail conditions under section 69 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994).
The friends that were travelling with me were naturally upset by the event. I of course produced my documents as instructed but feel bitter about the clear attempt to bully and frighten people from their legal right to protest freely outside the gates of Menwith Hill. Dozens of people who have attended the demonstration over the years have been stopped and searched using SOCPA. CAAB are currently using the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the actual numbers.
On 4th July this year CAAB will hold their annual ‘Independence from America’ demonstration outside the main gates to USAF Menwith Hill. We will not be intimidated nor deterred. We will uphold our lawful right to protest and we will have an informative, fun and successful event in our Yorkshire Dales. Please join us if you can. 4th July, 5-10pm at Menwith Hill. See our website for the full programme. www.caab.org.uk
Co-ordinator with Lindis Percy
Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases
Monday 15 June 2009 – arrest at RAF Fylingdales
CAAB report no: 229
Since 1987, Lindis Percy has been involved and has challenged in the courts, the issue of invalid Military Land Byelaws (MLBs) – many of which are invalid – particularly around US bases. In some cases they are invalid because the boundaries are not certain.
Lindis was doing some research at RAF Fylingdales as part of gathering evidence for a case which is being compiled. She arrived at the base at about 10.45 am and walked along the perimeter fence line, on to the permissive bridle way and up to ‘C’ gate. She walked quietly along the alarmed fence line round the phased radar structure. She noticed a parked Ministry of Defence Police Agency (MDPA) patrol car (no-one in it) and walked on towards the heavily guarded main entrance. A white van drove in followed by a MDPA patrol vehicle. Lindis walked on passed the main gate. She expected the MDPA patrol vehicle to stop but it drove into the base. She continued her research round the fence line.
Lindis was eventually aware of a CCTV camera monitoring her. One camera appeared to be stuck. A MDPA patrol vehicle arrived, (soon after joined by a colleague) driven by Eric Mills (PC 3910). Despite saying to the officer that she would continue on her way and leave by the bridle way, he purported to issue a section 69 notice (Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994). The MDPA have used s.69 many times against Lindis since this law came onto Statute (the MDPA use this law as bail conditions – s.69 puts on a ban of returning within 3 months). She was leaving but he immediately said she was under arrest. She asked the officer if she was committing an offence under the MLBs; to which he replied “I don’t know”.
Eric Mills then said that he would escort Lindis to the nearest exit. She said that he had just arrested her and that the proper process was that he had to take the arrested person in front of a custody officer ‘as soon as practicable’. Furthermore he had not ‘cautioned’ her and did so while driving back to the Police post inside the base.
Lindis was detained from 1.10 pm (time of arrest) and was released from Scarborough Police Station with ‘No Further Action’ just after 7.0 pm. At the time of arrest Lindis had been on the base for over two hours.
This incident was other example of the way the MDPA abuse and manipulate the law. It is worrying also that many of the officers have a woeful knowledge of the law and the application of the rules and regulations. Lindis had a hard time in custody. She will continue to bring those who abuse their power to account.
Lindis was a trespasser which she openly stated in a taped interview, she did not commit the offence of ‘aggravated trespass’ but she did commit an offence under the MLBs. A few MLBs notices have recently gone up (after many years of no notices until she questioned this). The notices purport to map out the boundary of the ‘restricted’ area at RAF Fylingdales. These MLBs are invalid and have been for many years but still the MDPA, the Defence Estates and the Crown Prosecution Service pretend that this law is safe. Lindis will continue to gather evidence to the contrary.
Friday 1 May 2009: Lindis Percy Released
CAAB report no: 228
Lindis Percy was released from Low Newton Womens prison today, having served 10 days of the 45 day custodial sentence imposed by Harrogate Magistrates’ Court for refusing to pay two outstanding fines which arose out of two cases involving Menwith Hill and Fylingdales ( refer to CAAB reports ).
Thank you so much to everyone who kindly sent such lovely messages and cards to Lindis while she was in prison.
Monday 30 March 2009: Protest at USAF Lakenheath
CAAB report no: 227
CAAB was at the American base at Lakenheath on Monday 30 March 2009. Having done some research around the US bases at Lakenheath, Mildenhall and Feltwell, Lindis Percy went to Gate no 1 at Lakenheath. She held the CAAB symbol of protest – the upside down American flag as she peacefully protested to people coming in and out of the base. The words written on the flag were “The cost of the US bases empire”.
Bob Meddings (Ministry of Defence Police officer) arrived. He was almost immediately called over by an American security serviceman who informed him that they were going to close the exit lane and that no traffic would be allowed out of the base. The base was on ‘lock down’. This apparently was because they were worried that some people coming out of the base may drive at her.
The MDPA officer stayed with Lindis and said he was quite happy at her peaceful protest. She was not committing any offence but protesting peacefully and legally. Suffolk police arrived and then Richard Fryer (Squadron Leader RAF Liaison officer based at Mildenhall) arrived. There were several ‘conferences’ with the US authorities. Richard Fryer shook hands and spoke to Lindis. He did not mention anything about the protest or the fact that by now the traffic situation on base was to be seen at ‘grid lock’.
This situation continued for about two hours before traffic began to move again – presumably because another gate had been opened to let traffic off base. This state of affairs, which continued for nearly two hours, had been caused entirely by the actions of the US authorities.
Bob Meddings (MDPA officer) was clearly under some pressure to ‘do’ something in the form of arresting Lindis for any spurious offence and so removing her from the scene. CAAB commends his stance as he insisted to colleagues, Suffolk police and the US authorities that Lindis had not nor was committing any offence.
It was encouraging and refreshing that for once, the MDPA enabled the right to peaceful protest [please refer to the Joint Committee on Human Rights latest report “Policing and Protest – CAAB website: www.caab.org.uk/category/joint-committe-on-human-rights] and refused to be pressurised in making an arrest for spurious reasons.
Coordinator with Laila Packer
CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACCOUNTABILITY OF AMERICAN BASES – CAAB
Appeal and retrial – 16 January 2009
CAAB report no: 226
Friday 16 January 2009
Appeal of conviction and sentence – York Crown Court
before Mr Recorder A T Hedworth QC
Judith Thomas – Magistrate
Mr A S Green – Magistrate
Anthony Dunn – Barrister (CPS)
Robin Frieze – Barrister (Defence)
Catherine Hollins – Pupil Barrister (Defence)
This was an appeal by Lindis Percy against the conviction and sentence for obstruction of the highway at Menwith Hill on 20 March 2008.
This is what it was all about…and a brief report of the trial in July at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court.
from CAAB report 220
Hefty fine and costs imposed at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court – 3 July 2008
Lindis Percy was in Harrogate Magistrates’ Court today charged with the alleged offence of ‘obstruction of the highway’ on the day of five years of the illegal invasion and war in Iraq. She defended herself as she has done many times before and has been successful before when charged with this particular offence – using the authority of Hirst and Agu v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (1986).
From the start it was abundantly clear that the Magistrates had made up their minds. There was CCTV evidence, witness evidence by PC Brown (North Yorkshire Police and who made the arrest) and PC Rigby (Ministry of Defence Police Agency who accompanied PC Brown). Both officers were part of the Counter Terrorist Unit patrolling round the American base at Menwith Hill.
Lindis had been peacefully demonstrating at the main entrance to Menwith Hill for nearly an hour before the officers arrived. A Ministry of Defence Police Agency officer had been with her during the hour. There had been no problems. This officer was not called to give evidence or a statement taken from her despite the officer being clearly seen on video and PC Brown, in his evidence saying that he had spoken to her. The case therefore rested on approximately 13 minutes when the officers arrived and Lindis was arrested. There was no evidence on CCTV of any obstruction of the highway. The MDPA officer was ‘policing’ the demonstration but these two officers (from the CTU) decided to take charge.
Lindis managed to persuade the Magistrates to agree that the whole of the CCTV evidence should not be played – only from when NYP and MDPA arrived. There was a lot of things that happened in court – all friends present were distressed by the bias and lack of independence and advice for a litigant in person by Richard Irwin (Legal Advisor). He also made a serious mistake in his note taking which raised a question about Lindis’s integrity which all friends in court found deeply shocking and distressing. Glyn Sutcliffe (CPS) appeared to be in charge of the court.
Lindis made several applications for the CCTV/DVD evidence to be played after PC Brown and Rigby gave evidence in order to show that what they had said was not so and to challenge what they had said. On each occasion this was denied by the Magistrates who said that they had seen the CCTV/DVD recording once and would not allow it to be shown again.
Lindis was found guilty of this charge. Fined and costs awarded against her – total £855 to be paid within 14 days. It was impossible to receive a fair trial with such blatant untruths being told, bias of the Magistrates (who of course would say otherwise), a Legal Advisor who made serious mistakes and the officers not telling the truth.
Lindis will seek legal advice as to whether she appeals the conviction and sentence to the Crown Crown. Thank you so much to Chris Dean (who was McKenzie friend in the morning) and Colin Parker who took over in the afternoon. Also to Paul Woods, Lorraine and Donald who were there to support. It was such a help.
We have now appealed the sentence and conviction where a retrial will be heard before a Judge and two Magistrates in York Crown Court.
Appeal and retrial – 16 January 2009
The court watched the CCTV recording of the incident and PC Brown gave evidence. A T Hedworth decided that the tribunal had heard enough evidence and ruled that they would allow the appeal with costs awarded to Lindis.
Thank you so much to Robin Frieze, Catherine Hollins and all the Ffriends who came to court and sent messages of support.
Gaza: protest at Menwith Hill
CAAB report no: 225
The Campaign for the American Bases – CAAB was at the America base at Menwith Hill on 29 December 2008 – for a couple of hours in protest at what the Israelis were doing to/in Gaza.
NSA Menwith Hill near Harrogate North Yorkshire is the largest surveillance and intelligence gathering US base in the world and will be involved with what is happening to Gaza – because of it’s roles. The protest was also about the US being the major supplier of arms to Israel.
There is a demonstration every Tuesday evening (6-8pm) outside the main entrance to Menwith HIl – we will be focussing particularly on the role that this base is playing in the conflict in Gaza and that the US military role in this terrible conflict until there is a cease fire. We urge as many people as possible to join us with banners. It is one thing we can do….
A CASE OF DOING WHAT THEY LIKE
A report by Lindis Percy
Someone is assaulted and the police try and intervene but are pushed away. They stand by and watch the assault. What is the legal remedy?
Normally we would expect the police not to stand by while an offence of this serious nature was taking place in front of them. The person who was offending would be arrested and probably charged and the due legal process would begin. That’s normally what would happen in the English legal system.
However this is a real case and what actually happened is far from the norm. The difference being that the person who actually assaulted a British citizen is a member of the United States Visiting Forces (USVF) and the police are a very different police force to the Home office police. They are the Ministry of Defence Police Agency (MDPA) who, when working on US bases in this country, are paid for and under the operational control of the US authorities.
This is an account of how the US Visiting Forces do what they like when a serious offence is committed by a member of the USVF. It has implications for us all.
The incident happened two years ago at the American base at Croughton near Northampton. A peace campaigner, who was well known to the American authorities as a peaceful person, was researching on this base. She was eventually found, thrown to the ground, handcuffed, intrusively searched and assaulted. Before this she had identified herself and said she would leave. She also insisted that the MDPA be called. The assault was such that she suffered a facial palsy which took 6 weeks to resolve.
There were many US servicemen and women and two MDPA officers present during the incident. American instructions which are mandatory, say that if the ‘intruder’ is British, peaceful and the MDPA can deal with them, control must be handed over to the MDPA to deal with.
The MDPA were called, one of them did try to take control and get the handcuffs removed but he was pushed away by the American serviceman. He said he could go to jail if he disobeyed orders.
The peace campaigner was eventually served a notice not to return to the base for 3 months. She immediately did so, to ensure that the case came to court. She was charged with ‘aggravated trespass’. The case collapsed very early on in the trial because of a technicality. The opportunity to cross examine the players involved was lost.
What next? An offence had occurred and the police did not want to do anything. The remedy therefore was to secure summonses in a private prosecution. This was duly done by the peace campaigner and the summonses carefully drafted. Corby Magistrates’ Court refused to issue the summonses. They gave no reasons.
The campaigner applied for a Judicial Review in the High Court, London on this decision by the court. It’s not easy when acting in person. A year later she was successful. The Judges were highly critical of the Magistrates. They were not represented in court and had not responded to any court documents. The Judges ordered the Magistrates to issue the summonses. Costs were awarded to the peace campaigner.
The summonses were eventually issued after several phone calls from the peace campaigner. The case came to Northampton Magistrates’ Court earlier this year. Although ordered to attend court, none of the defendants appeared in court; despite protestations by the peace campaigner. The Crown Prosecution applied to the court to take over the case which they can and usually do, when there is a contentious case brought privately and with political implications. The case was then out of the peace campaigner’s control.
There was a twist however. The Crown Prosecutor (CP) was the very man who had brought the case against her concerning the same incident at Croughton. Asked by the peace campaigner, on what information he would decide whether to discontinue or continue the case, he said ‘from the taped interview you gave when you were charged’. On second thoughts however and in a letter, he did agree that the peace campaigner could give a statement.
There were four hearings altogether. None of the defendants ever appeared in court despite one bench of Magistrates saying that the American must appear at the next hearing. He didn’t appear and a warrant backed with bail was issued by the Magistrates. They acknowledged that enforcement might be a problem.
Within days, the CP applied for the warrant to be withdrawn, saying that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case. The American legal department at the US base at Mildenhall had entered a Certificate, under the Visiting Forces Act 1952, exempting the American of ever being brought to court. The case was discontinued a week later.
There is a process which the court must follow. However the CPS were probably never going to allow this case to proceed. The two tests whether to continue or discontinue, as with any case assessed by the CPS, were not rigorously applied. We now are looking at alternative legal remedies.
What happened in Northampton Magistrates’ Court, quietly, without much publicity and without the usual processes of the court being applied, means that the American military, unfettered, do what they like. They do this all round the world.
What needs to happen is a challenge to the Certificate and a good look at the Visiting Forces Act 1952. This Act is out of date and means that, with no accountability or legal remedies for the British citizen, the American serviceman has escaped the scrutiny of the English legal system. A piece of paper waved in the court lets him get away with this offence. As for the MDPA? The test for neglect of duty is deliberately very high.
9 May 2008
‘Keep Space for Peace’ demonstration close to NSA Menwith Hill
Saturday 4 October 2008
CAAB Report 224.
Despite the terrible weather and other events happening on the same day, people came to the eighth annual ‘Keep Space for Peace’ demonstration which is part of a week of international protest against Missile Defense called for by the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (www.space4peace.org). The police were in excess – on foot, on horses, on bikes, in cars and waiting in the side roads in vans. Extra Ministry of Defence Police Agency officers were on duty on the base. …
This is the message that Noam Chomsky sent to us – read out at the demonstration
Noam Chomsky is professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His writings on linguistics and politics have just been collected in The Essential Chomsky, edited by Anthony Arnove, from the New Press.
Thursday 11 September 2008
CAAB Report no, 223
CAAB was at Menwith Hill for an hour this evening, standing opposite the main entrance to the base to mark the 7th anniversary of the attacks in America in 2001. There was a banner which said “Remembering all victims of terrorism” with a single peace flag fluttering by its side.
We went to Menwith Hill seven years ago, on the day that this terrible event happend. It occured on a Tuesday – the regular day of the weekly demonstration. On that day we handed in a card and flowers to the US Commander. We had no upside down US flags in evidence and wore black arm bands. We have been there with the banner and the peace flag on 11 September each year since.
A matter of a bollard…
Guilty verdict at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court – 19 August 2008.
“This case arose out of three incidents at Menwith Hill last year. Lindis Percy was charged with breaching a s.69 notice …. The essence of section 69 says that if an officer reasonably believes that a person trepasses on land in the open air with the intention of disrupting, obstructing or intimidating lawful activity then an offence is committed and a notice can be issued. Once issued the person must not come back to the land within 3 months…”
Read the full report.