Three month prison sentence for anti-nuclear court graffiti protest

Political graffiti at Dumbarton Sheriff Court

from Trident Ploughshares

Two peace activists were sentenced today in Dumbarton (Scotland) Sheriff Court for painting “political graffiti” on the walls of the court following a 2010 trial in which they maintained that the court did not uphold international law with respect to the illegality of the Trident nuclear weapon system. Barbara Dowling, a retired Occuptational Therapist, 67, of Knightswood was given 3 months in prison and Janet Fenton, 64, Secretary of Scottish CND was given 120 hours Community Service.

In October 2010, Barbara Dowling and Janet Fenton appeared at a session of the JP court within the Sheriff Court building in Dumbarton accused of a breach of the peace during a blockade of Faslane naval base, home to the UK’s Trident nuclear weapon submarines. Justice Ross refused to hear their defence and, according to the defendants, appeared to have made up her mind before all the evidence was put before the court. She would not allow them to put their argument that they had a right to disrupt the illegal work at Faslane under international humanitarian law.

Immediately following the trial they painted on internal walls of the court slogans indicating the failure of the court to uphold international law. At the trial last month Barbara and Janet accepted that they had painted the court’s walls but maintained their not guilty plea as they felt that the public needed to know that the court did not uphold international law. Finding them guilty Sheriff Anderson deferred sentence until today in order to obtain Social Enquiry Reports.

The women still felt justified in their actions and were disappointed that the Social Enquiry Reports did not accurately represent their positions.

Barbara Dowling said, ” I did what the courts refuse to do: I upheld international law in regard to nuclear weapons. I am not guilty of a crime and I am not co-operating with an unjust punishment.”

Janet Fenton said, “I consider that I do Service for the Community all the time in working for peace. Doing 120 hours for the Community shouldn’t be a problem.”

Letters of support can be sent to Barbara Dowling at the address listed here.

Jane Tallents

Trident Ploughshares is a part of the international nuclear disarmament movement. Trident Ploughshares activists have pledged to disarm the UK Trident nuclear weapons system in a non-violent, open, peaceful, safe and fully accountable manner.