23 May 2007: for immediate release
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament welcomed yesterday’s acquittal of the ‘Fairford Two’ protesters, charged with criminal damage after attempting to sabotage US B-52 bombers on the eve of the Iraq war.
Toby Olditch, 38 and Philip Pritchard, 36, both of Oxford, admitted planning to put nuts and bolts into the engines of the bombers at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire and daub slogans on to the massive aircraft. The pair were acquitted by a jury at Bristol Crown Court after four hours of deliberation produced a unanimous verdict.
The jury rejected the charge of conspiracy to cause criminal damage after the protesters argued they acted to prevent the greater crime of civilian deaths in Iraq. B-52s subsequently dropped unguided bombs during the war that started the day following the protest action, falling on urban areas causing significant numbers of civilian deaths.
Speaking outside court Philip Pritchard said: “I am delighted. It is a great relief – and a huge vote of confidence for anti-war protesters – that a jury were convinced that our actions were lawful.” Toby Olditch added: “We have spent four years waiting for this day. It demonstrates that the law really can come down to reasonableness.”
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “We congratulate the protesters on their outstanding commitment. Their actions have secured an advance for those striving for peace and democracy in Britain”.
Notes to Editors:
1. To contact the protesters, please call 07910 329 211
2. The two men were arrested inside the perimeter fences at RAF Fairford in the early morning of 18 March 2003, just two days before the bombing of Iraq started. They carried with them tools to damage the planes, nuts and bolts to jam the aircrafts engines, pictures of ordinary Iraqi civilians and paint symbolizing blood and oil. They also carried warning signs for attaching to any damaged planes which would help alert aircrew to their action. The two men acted nonviolently in a way which would not result in harm to anyone, including the military personnel at Fairford. They intended to stay with the planes and tell the operators what they’d done.
3. For further information and interviews please contact Ben Soffa, CND’s Press & Communications Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
4. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.