Memorandum submitted by Yorkshire Campaign
for Nuclear Disarmament
In response to the call for evidence for the
Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry into the human rights
issues arising from policing and protest, Yorkshire Campaign for
Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has prepared the following body of evidence.
Yorkshire CND's campaigning initiatives against
the US Missile Defence programme within the Yorkshire region focus
on the two key bases linked to US Missile Defence; Menwith Hill
and RAF Fylingdales. Both bases are situated in North Yorkshire
and are policed by both the North Yorkshire Police and the Ministry
of Defence Police Agency.
The evidence aims to present a clear analysis
of the US Missile Defence programme and CND's opposition to it
in order to accurately demonstrate the increasingly intolerant
levels of policing faced by campaigners at these bases.
The evidence focuses on examples of policing
at Menwith Hill, the location of the most regular visible protests.
Menwith Hill is located between Harrogate and Skipton, on the
A59 road and whilst still in a rural setting, is located on the
busier thoroughfare of the two bases.
Sites of protest at Menwith Hill generally include
the front gates, not visible from the main road and a large lay-by
opposite the base on the A59. Both Police agencies patrol and
monitor demonstrations at these sites.
The introduction of SOCPA 2005 legislation has
invoked a marked difference in policing at the bases. The right
to walk around Menwith Hill without fear of apprehension has been
severely curtailed, even during organised demonstrations. (Fylingdales
is marked by ancient bridleways, but is still difficult to walk
around without being stopped.) The legislation is designed to
apply to the site, but the use of Stop and Search powers is being
used in the entire vicinity of the perimeter of the base, at seemingly
Large barriers outside the main gate are used
to "pen" peace protestors in and are often combined
with intrusive photography and filming by both police agencies.
Yorkshire CND argues that these measures are nothing but intimidating.
For what purpose would a protestor with "something to hide"
willingly and compliantly join a demonstration at the biggest
electronic monitoring station in the world?
Current limits to the rights to protest at bases
such as Menwith Hill are designed to protect facilities operating
solely in the economic and military interests of the US, and if
not challenged will only get worse. If sections of SOCPA are to
be repealed to allow protest around Parliament, then by the same
token so must the sections applying to bases such as Menwith Hill.
It is in the public interest to witness and have the opportunity
to join lawful, peaceful protest and democratically hold the government's
actions to account.
The right to peaceful protest must be upheld,
and the police agencies involved must actively engage with campaigners
to facilitate that right. Currently North Yorkshire Police and
the Ministry of Defence Police Association can "pass the
buck" to each other for decisions made to limit protest.
Any limitations on public peaceful protest must become transparent
The work of peaceful campaigning organisations
and networks such as CND have been crucial in upholding the long-fought
right to protest that has ensured social change globally and throughout
history. By increasing public awareness and support and holding
the government to account, change can be achieved for the benefit
of the majority.
If the current limitations and penalties for
protestors are upheld and expanded, as is no doubt the objective,
how will any citizen have an opportunity to portray their views
on any issue?
Yorkshire CND welcomes the opportunity to submit
this evidence to the Committee.
1. MAIN BODY
1.1 Yorkshire CND
Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)
is a campaigning organisation with members and supporters based
across the Yorkshire and Humberside region. Yorkshire CND is an
autonomous organisation working alongside and affiliated to the
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. CND has been at the forefront
of anti-nuclear and peace campaigning for the past 50 years.
1.2 Yorkshire CND has been researching and
documenting issues relating to US Missile Defence for over 20
years. Yorkshire CND's Convenor, Professor Dave Webb is a leading
British expert on US Missile Defence and has contributed to numerous
articles, journals and lectures on Britain's role in the programme.
In June 2007, Professor Webb joined panel of experts at a hearing
on "Does Europe Need an Anti-Missile Defence Shield?"
at the European Parliament.
1.3 Yorkshire CND Committee members Helen
John and Sylvia Boyes were the first campaigners to be charged
under Section 128 of the Serious and Organised Crime and Police
Act 2005 (SOCPA).
Both women were found guilty of criminal trespass
after walking into Menwith Hill wearing peace placards on April
1st 2006. John is currently preparing to appeal this ruling.
1.4 Yorkshire CND has a broad history of
organising and supporting campaign initiatives such as demonstrations,
peace camps, vigils and non-violent direct action eventsmany
in liaison with the police, to highlight concerns and increase
1.5 US Missile Defence
Since former President Reagan announced the
"Star Wars" or Strategic Defence Initiative in 1983,
over $120 billion has been spent on US Missile Defence.
The US Missile Defence Agency (MDA), describes
Missile Defence as:
"an integrated, layered, ballistic missile
defense system to defend the United States, its deployed forces,
allies, and friends against all ranges of enemy ballistic missiles
in all phases of flight."
1.6 The US Administration claim the system
operates in a global capacity to defend the territories of the
United States. A network of ground, air, sea and space based facilities
operate across the globe to launch detect, track and target ballistic
attack. These include a system of ground based radar stations,
including the Ballistic Missile Early Warning Radar station at
RAF Fylingdales, North Yorkshire; recently upgraded to US requirements
for Missile Defence.
1.7 Another component (the European Ground
Based Relay Station for the Space Based Infra Red System) is situated
at Menwith Hill, also in North Yorkshire. Menwith Hill intercepts
electronic signals and communications (SIGINT) solely for US military
intelligence through the US National Security Agency (NSA).
1.8 Missile Defence includes missile interceptors,
currently operational in two locations in the United States, with
further site proposals in Europe.
These facilities form part of a larger worldwide
US military communications, command and control network known
as Strategic Command (STRATCOM). In Omaha Nebraska, STRATCOM is
responsible for US global military operations involving nuclear
and conventional weapons based on land, at sea, in the air and
space. STRATCOM describes itself as:
"a global integrator charged with the missions
of full-spectrum global strike, space operations, computer network
operations, Department of Defense information operations, strategic
warning, integrated missile defense, global C4ISR (Command, Control,
Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance),
combating weapons of mass destruction, and specialized expertise
to the joint warfighter|."
1.9 US Missile Defence is designed to help
provide the US with a prompt global strike capability.
A 2000 US Air Force planning document states that a long-term
goal of the U.S. military is to:
"enable an affordable capability to swiftly
and effectively deliver highly effective weapons against targets
at any required global location" in order to "affordably
destroy or neutralize any target on earth.|"
Working with offensive weapons systems protecting
US troops, bases and other US "strategic assets" globally,
a core goal of US Missile Defence is to make threats of force,
including nuclear, more credible.
1.10 SOCPA legislation applies to Fylingdales
and Menwith Hill.
1.11 The Campaign against US Missile Defence
US Missile Defence is not a "defensive"
programme. Its aims and operational features are open to challenge.
A White House report, October 2007 states:
"America faces a growing ballistic missile
threat. In 1972 just nine countries had ballistic missiles. Today,
that number has grown to 27 and it includes hostile regimes with
ties to terrorists."
Despite strong evidence from the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the Iranian government has no
plausible nuclear military capabilities, the US still present
a perceived ballistic missile strike from Iran as a core justification
for the programme.
The success of Missile Defence as a defensive
system is limited.
"Shooting down an enemy missile is like
trying to hit a hole-in-one in golf when the hole is moving at
17,000 mph. And if an enemy uses decoys and counter measures,
missile defence is like trying to hit a hole-in-one| and the green
is covered in black circles the same size as the hole."
The costs and technology of the programme have
been consistently undermined by failures in testing.
1.12 Reviewed as an aggressive system, the
funding and support from the White House make more sense. Missile
Defence shores up the US's first strike ballistic capabilities.
Advancement of US Missile Defence has been at
the expense of international treaties
and the proposed development of the programme in Europe has sparked
serious tensions with Russia.
1.13 As an organisation campaigning for
the abolition of all nuclear weapons, working towards global sustainable
peace initiatives, Yorkshire CND reject the "defensive"
aims of the programme, believing that the true aims are to secure
US military dominance to facilitate US economic advantages, including
access to and control of energy resources. We support clear evidence
that the development of the programme in Europe compromises security
within the region to support US military objectives.
1.14 Menwith Hill
Yorkshire CND campaigns at US Missile Defence
bases in Yorkshire, opposing their existence and operations and
the lack of British accountability.
1.15 Stop and Search and anti-terrorism
legislation has been used to intimidate and harass protestors
who wish to publicly, peacefully and lawfully demonstrate their
opposition to the bases.
1.16 Anti-terrorism legislation such as
SOCPA 2005, protecting facilities operating exclusively in the
interests of US military objectives is fundamentally flawed and
has been rightly challenged by committed individuals.
Yorkshire CND support a basic right of all citizens
to peacefully challenge and dispute actions taken by any governmentespecially
those seen to reduce the security of the public and undermine
the accountability of British democracy; such as protesting at
1.17 Helen John and Sylvia Boyes walked
15ft into Menwith Hill on 1 April 2006, the day Section 128 of
SOCPA came into force criminalising trespass at designated sites
across Britain. Both women were prepared to suffer the maximum
imprisonment of up to 51 weeks and/or a fine of up to £10,000
to challenge the legislation. Interviewed by The Independent on
6 April 2006, Shami Chakrabarti, the Director of Liberty observed:
"When does a peaceful protester become a
trespasser? In a free society, when does he become a criminal?
In Britain in 2006, only one manthe Home Secretarywill
now decide instead of Parliament and the court. Just when our
politicians lament the demise of participatory democracy they
increasingly criminalise both free speech and protest."
1.18 The subsequent delays and costs bringing
John and Boyes' case to trial in October 2007, and the tone of
District Judge Martin Walker in his summation displays the enormous
waste in resources attributed to implementing this legislation.
Finding both women guilty, Judge Walker imposed the deliberately
minimal penalisation of three months conditional discharge and
a fine of £50 towards the prosecutions costs.
1.19 From the action taken by John and Boyes'
and the subsequent outcome of the case, Yorkshire CND believe
that to try veteran peace protestors as alleged terrorists indicates
not only that the government has lost touch with British traditions
of democratic peaceful protest, secured over centuries, but that
it supports the interests of another state (the US) over the legal
and constitutional principles of British democracy and the rights
of British people.
1.20 A government imposing legislation to
prevent legitimate and peaceful protest must expect that the public
will demand to know why; particularly if the relevance to national
security is as widely disputed as Britain's role in US Missile
Defence. Helen John has repeatedly stated that if governments
acted legitimately and accountably, there would be no need for
"I wish I'd never had to put my foot over
any line. Are governments elected to facilitate US interests or
represent the British people?
We need to repeal laws that protect the government
behaving illegally. It is the responsibility of all citizens to
1.21 Stop and Search
On Saturday 29 March 2008, 10 peace campaigners
met at Menwith Hill in solidarity with campaigners protesting
in Poland in opposition to proposals to locate US interceptor
missiles in their country. Menwith Hill was chosen because of
the government's announcement in July 2007 that permission for
the US to use the base as a Missile Defence facility had been
granted. The process was subsequently criticised by the Foreign
Affairs Select Committee for a clear lack of accountability.
1.22 The campaigners met at the main gate,
informed the Ministry of Defence Police (MODPA) of their reasons
for meeting and proceeded to speak and take group photographs.
At no point was any attempt made to enter the base or breach security.
The campaigners decided to walk part way around the perimeter
of the base to view the giant radomes. Taking into account the
wet and cold weather, the campaigners agreed to keep the walk
brief. At the Steeplebush gate, some of the group were apprehended
by a Ministry of Defence Police (MDPA) officer who informed them
that the rest of the group had been detained under Section 44
of the Prevention of Terrorism act and that they were all to be
1.23 All six of the campaigners at Steeplebush
gate were searchedalthough, perhaps due to the weather
or lack of suspicion by the officers involved, in a somewhat perfunctory
fashion. The campaigners were informed that they were being searched
as they had breached the boundaries laid down in statute by SOCPA
and that in touching the fence they had set off alarms in the
base. The question "If we are such a terrorist threat, why
did you wait until we got out of the mud to the nice dry concrete
gate area to apprehend us?" was not answered.
1.24 All campaigners were searched, as were
the vehicles of the two drivers. The campaigners agreed afterwards
that the policing and use of anti-terrorism legislation to challenge
their right to protest were an attempt at intimidation. Those
who had never been to the base before confirmed that it affirmed
their resolve to return.
1.25 Armed police patrol the rural areas
surrounding Menwith Hill and Fylingdales. Their unlimited Stop
and Search powers under S44 of the Terrorism Act extend for a
five mile radius round Menwith Hill and a 10 mile radius round
Yorkshire CND has learnt
that between September 2001 and June 2006, 2110 vehicles were
stopped and drivers questioned and 941 drivers and passengers
searched at Menwith Hill.
1.26 Yorkshire CND also has considerable
anecdotal evidence from supporters from ethnic minorities that
the perceived and actual behaviour of the Police agencies at Menwith
Hill is a deterrent to lawful peaceful protest.
1.27 Organised Protest
On Saturday 17 May 2008, Yorkshire CND co-ordinated
a demonstration at Menwith Hill entitled "Breaking the Links".
The Yorkshire CND staff member organising the event was in compliant
co-operation with all agencies in advancemeeting with North
Yorkshire Police (NYP) to discuss the plans and regular conversations
with the MOD intelligence officer for Menwith Hill.
1.28 The event was planned as a small scale
demonstration, less than 100 were expected and the organiser had
specifically requested that:
The barriers used by the police to
"contain" protestors at the front gate be replaced with
standard metal mesh fences as the large solid barriers create
a claustrophobic environment. These barriers are a recent addition
to organised protests at the base.
The NYP Chief Constable agree not
to impose a Section 12 Public Order Act (1986) and allow protestors
to safely walk around the perimeter of the fence; to view all
aspects of the facility and to maintain a visible protest to traffic
passing the base, as observed by campaigners for many years.
Both requests were rejected. The first by email
"There is a concern that changing the format
for your participants is inconsistent with what is done such as
4 july (sic) and would set a precedent for challenge."
The second in writing stating that:
"|the anticipated nature and extent of the
procession and the physical feature of the A59| is too dangerous
(and may itself result in serious disruption to the life of the
community) to allow the procession |"
1.29 During the event, further restrictions
of movement at the main gates were imposed due to an alleged "counter
protest" in support of the base. No further coherent information
about the alleged "counter protest" (which never arrived),
was provided, except that it was organised by a group who run
an online network. Despite subsequent detailed research, no evidence
of any group or "counter protest" has been found.
1.30 Visible police levels on the day were
estimated to be of a ratio of 3:1 to campaigners. Police horses
from South Yorkshire and the usual array of photographers and
camcorders were operational.
1.31 Freedom of Information requests for
figures of policing and the alleged "counter protest"
have been submitted by Yorkshire CND. These requests are currently
pending with NYP and have been rejected by MDPA.
1.32 Yorkshire CND believe that policing
at Menwith Hill on 17 May 2008 was deliberately excessive and
designed to intimidate and deter legitimate and lawful protest.
2.2 It is the view of Yorkshire CND that
policing measures are being misused and applied in situations
for which they were not intended to discourage legitimate protest.
2.3 Although these actions may deter some,
they will firm the resolve of committed activists. Further misuse
of anti-terrorism legislation to protect facilities such as Menwith
Hill may in a worse-case scenario provoke a situation of confrontation,
jeopardising the safety of protestors.
2.4 There have been no convictions of terrorists
as a result of Stop and Search under SOCPA. Any anti-terrorism
legislation being used to prevent or criminalise legitimate protest
at bases such as Menwith Hill should be repealed; for the upholding
of core democratic and judicial principles.
2.5 The peaceful majority should not be
criminalised for challenging the government's role in programmes
such as US Missile Defence. Protest at bases such as Menwith Hill
should be upheld as a democratic principle in any society, not
least one with a rich history of principled campaigns for peace
and social justice such as Britain.
197 More information on this from "What are the
Prospects, What are the Costs?: Oversight of Missile Defense (Part
2)", US Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 16
April 2008-available at http://nationalsecurity.oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1860 Back
See: http://www.mda.mil/mdalink/html/aboutus.html Back
U.S. Strategic Command History, http://www.stratcom.mil/about-ch.html Back
"Global Strike-A chronology of the Pentagon's New Offensive
Strike Plan" from the Federation of American Scientists-http://www.fas.org/ssp/docs/GlobalStrikeReport.pdf Back
U.S. Department of the Air Force, The Air Force Science and Technology
Plan for Fiscal Year 2000, p. 22. Back
"Fact Sheet: Defending America and Its Allies Against Ballistic
Missile Attack. President Bush Explains Need for Missile Defence
System in Europe, Discusses Progress Defending America From Attack",
Office of the Press Secretary, White House, 23 October 2007. Back
"Missile Defense Malfunction: Why the Proposed US Missile
Defenses in Europe Will Not Work", Philip Coyle and Victoria
Samson, Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 22.1, Spring
President Bush withdrew the United States from the Anti-Ballistic
Missile (ABM) Treaty on 13 December 2001, to successfully advance
the US Missile Defence programme. Back
See also:" The European Missile Defence Folly", George
Lewis and Theodore Postol, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Vol.
64, No. 2, p. 32-39, 61, May/June, 2008-http://www.thebulletin.org/files/064002009.pdf Back
Helen John, personal interview for Yorkshire CND, June 2008. Back
Hansard; http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/vo060620/text/60620w0003.htm#06062036000411 Back
Email from Chief Inspector Chris Chelton, North Yorkshire Police
to Sarah Cartin, Development Worker, Yorkshire CND on 9 May 2008. Back
Notice of Section 12 Public Order Act 1986 issued by Chief Constable
Grahame Maxwell, North Yorkshire Police, 13 May 2008. Back