Peace protest trial - latest

 On the second day of the trial of two Catholic peace campaigners in Chelmsford Crown Court, the jury of eight men and four women learnt how poorly guarded Wittering RAF base was on the night of their protest. Susan van der Hijden and Fr Martin Newell, are charged on two counts of criminal damage, after they damaged a nuclear weapon convoy truck at the base last November. Cross-examined by barrister Terry Munyard (for Martin Newell) the MoD officer in charge of security for Wittering on the night in question, admitted that he had had three cans of lager at a social event that evening and could not be sure whether the alarms had been set. Defending herself, Susan van der Hijden, while cross-examining a prosecution witness, showed the jury a booklet with illustrations of the injuries caused by the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki more than 50 years ago. Barrister Munyard then passed round the jury another book outlining the the power and indiscriminate nature of the new Trident missiles. The case for the defence began yesterday afternoon as Fr Martin took the witness stand and gave a detailed account of what happened last November. A Trident Ploughshares spokesperson said: "By what they did Susan and Martin have brought into the light of day the fact that we have these hideous weapons and are criminally careless about ensuring public safety as we move them about the country." The trial continues.

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