Peace campaigner prepares for jail

A PEACE campaigner has vowed to go to prison for a third time rather than pay a fine handed to her by magistrates for her part in an anti-war protest in Suffolk.

A PEACE campaigner has vowed to go to prison for a third time rather than pay a fine handed to her by magistrates for her part in an anti-war protest in Suffolk.

After a trial at Sudbury Magistrates' Court, Dr Margaret Jones, 53, of Burlington Road, Bristol, was found guilty of criminal damage after she admitted cutting a whole in a perimeter fence at USAF Lakenheath.

The incident happened in October last year when Dr Jones travelled from her Bristol home to join the Lakenheath Action Group in a protest over America's possible assaults on Iraq and their claims that nuclear weapons are being stored at the Suffolk airbase.

Despite being ordered to pay more than £900 for her actions, Dr Jones said she had no regrets and labelled the American and British Governments as "hypocrites", accusing them of committing war crimes by storing nuclear weapons, which is in breach of the Geneva Convention.


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Prosecutor Ian Francis told the court how during the protest on October 6, police officer Martin Ryan was called to a civil engineering compound at the base where he noticed a man and a woman had broken through the fencing and were sitting on the floor. When he asked the couple how they got in the woman, Dr Jones, said she had cut through the fencing.

Mr Francis said: "This is a lady of sincere beliefs and feels it is appropriate to take action. While a person is fully entitled to express a political opinion, it does not give them an open cheque book to carry out extreme action in support of that."

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Dr Jones, who defended herself, admitted cutting through the fence with wire cutters, but claimed she was not guilty of causing criminal damage under a defence of necessity. She claimed her actions were necessary to avoid inevitable evil being inflicted onto others.

She said: "I feel I had the authority to make this gesture to resist an enormous and horrendous crime against humanity."

Dr Jones, who has a PHD in American Studies and was a former lecturer at the University of the West of England in Bristol, was fined £300, ordered to pay £286 compensation and £80 in court costs. She was also ordered to pay £250 for breaching a conditional discharge for a previous criminal damage offence.

Dr Jones says she will refuse to pay the fine, a decision which could see her jailed for a third time for refusing to pay fines issued for protest related incidents.

She said: "I never pay the fines, as a matter of principle I would rather do the time. I have been imprisoned twice for refusing to pay these fines. I was jailed for 40 days last February and I am prepared to go again."

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