Hobbled Jury Condones Convict
Helen John was released on bail October 14 after five weeks in jail, charged with over £5,000 of criminal damage to the Houses of Parliament after painting "Ban Trident," "No Star Wars," and "Ban Depleted Uranium" on the wall near the public entrance last September. Among those testifying on her behalf during a three day Crown Court trial in December, in addition to members of Parliament and a low-level radiation expert, was former Labour Party leader and nuclear disarmament advocate Tony Benn, who said he was kept in the dark on a number of nuclear issues while a government minister, and that the British Government, with its repeated flouting of international law, was a threat to democracy.
During its deliberations, the jury asked Judge Henry Blacksell if they were able to take international law into account in reaching their verdict. He said no. When they delivered their guilty verdict, the jury also send a note to the judge. Blacksell read to the court, "We are unanimously agreed that the defendant had reasonable cause for her actions." He then told the jurors "You can take it I can understand that ... and will be true to it." Sentencing was deferred until June 16, and John was given a discharge contingent on her good behavior until then.
Due to a similar painting action on the walls of the Scottish High Court and new Scottish Parliament visitor's center a few days before the London action, a Scottish warrant is pending for John's arrest. She is expected to face the court in Scotland sometime in the coming weeks.
For more information, contact Trident Ploughshares 2000, 42-46 Bethel
Street, Norwich, Norfolk, NR2 1NR, UK; email@example.com