British Reverend and Quaker activist found not guilty after trying to disarm BAE fighter jets headed for Yemen

  • Daniel and Sam with their lawyer

    Sam Walton and Rev. Daniel Woodhouse have been acquitted after breaking-in to BAE Systems factory to “disarm” Typhoon fighter jets.

  • BAE’s Typhoon fighter jets are being used by Saudi-led forces in the ongoing bombardment of Yemen
  • The UK has licensed £3.8 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the bombing began in March 2015
On the afternoon of October 26, Reverend Daniel Woodhouse and Sam Walton, a Quaker activist from London, were found not guilty at Burnley Magistrates Court, following their arrest for trying to disarm Typhoon fighter jets at BAE Systems’ site in Warton, Lancashire on 29 January 2017.
 Their aim had been to stop the jets, which had Saudi markings painted on them, from going to Saudi Arabia where they would be used to support the ongoing bombing of Yemen. Sam and Daniel successfully argued that their intention was to save innocent lives and prevent war crimes, by physically disabling the warplanes.

 The two campaigners broke in via a fence on the perimeter of the site, and got within five feet of the warplanes before being stopped by BAE security.
 The court heard evidence about the scale of the brutal bombardment, and the many serious accusations of war crimes that have been made against the Royal Saudi Air Force.
 In delivering comments on his judgement, District Judge James Clarke said: “They were impressive and eloquent men who held strong views about what they were doing and what they wanted to achieve. They impressed me as being natural in their delivery and honest throughout their evidence…
 “I heard about their belief of BAE’s role in the supply of aircraft to Saudi Arabia. I heard about their beliefs regarding the events in Yemen, that they include the death of civilians and the destruction of civilian property, and the basis for their belief that this amounted to war crimes…
 “However, having considered in full the defence under sec 5 Criminal Damage Act 1971, I find the defendants not guilty.”
 Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £3.8 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, including:
  • £2.6 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)         
  • £1.1 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)         
  • £572,000 worth of ML6 licences (Armoured vehicles, tanks)         
In a joint statement, Sam and Daniel said: “We did not want to take this action, but were compelled to do so in order to stop the UK government’s complicity in the destruction of Yemen. Thousands of people have been killed in the brutal bombardment, while companies like BAE Systems have profited every step of the way.
“This vindication from the Courts is further evidence of the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy that underpins so much of UK foreign policy. It is time for the government to stop putting arms company profits ahead of human rights. We do not regret taking action, and would do it again in a heartbeat. The only thing we regret is that we were not able to finish the job.”
Read Buzzfeed article here.
Read Independent article here.

Section 5 Criminal Damage Act 1971 5 “Without lawful excuse.”

(1)This section applies to any offence under section 1(1) above and any offence under section 2 or 3 above other than one involving a threat by the person charged to destroy or damage property in a way which he knows is likely to endanger the life of another or involving an intent by the person charged to use or cause or permit the use of something in his custody or under his control so to destroy or damage property.
(2)A person charged with an offence to which this section applies, shall, whether or not he would be treated for the purposes of this Act as having a lawful excuse apart from this subsection, be treated for those purposes as having a lawful excuse—
(a)if at the time of the act or acts alleged to constitute the offence he believed that the person or persons whom he believed to be entitled to consent to the destruction of or damage to the property in question had so consented, or would have so consented to it if he or they had known of the destruction or damage and its circumstances; or
(b)if he destroyed or damaged or threatened to destroy or damage the property in question or, in the case of a charge of an offence under section 3 above, intended to use or cause or permit the use of something to destroy or damage it, in order to protect property belonging to himself or another or a right or interest in property which was or which he believed to be vested in himself or another, and at the time of the act or acts alleged to constitute the offence he believed—
(i)that the property, right or interest was in immediate need of protection; and
(ii)that the means of protection adopted or proposed to be adopted were or would be reasonable having regard to all the circumstances.
(3)For the purposes of this section it is immaterial whether a belief is justified or not if it is honestly held.
(4)For the purposes of subsection (2) above a right or interest in property includes any right or privilege in or over land, whether created by grant, licence or otherwise.
(5)This section shall not be construed as casting doubt on any defence recognised by law as a defence to criminal charges.