British priest jailed for nonpayment of fine

Fr. Martin Newell, center, with codefendants Chris Cole and Sr. Susan Clarkson

Fr. Martin Newell of the London Catholic Worker community was sentenced to 24 days imprisonment on Friday 9 December 2011 at Highbury Magistrates Court.  Martin was brought before the court for refusing to pay a fine arising from cutting into the Northwood Headquarters/ London
in December 2008.  The anti-war direct action was timed for the “Feast of the Holy Innocents” on the Catholic liturgical calender. The feast day follows Christmas and commemorates the massacre of children in a search and destroy mission by King Herod who saw the birth of Christ as a threat to his power.

From the dock Fr. Newell stated, “I work with refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan at the Catholic Worker.  I am opposed to the wars we have been waging on these countries.  I have nonviolently resisted these wars since they began.  I’m refusing to pay this fine as a form of further non-cooperation with these wars.”

Northwood Hedquarters is the command centre for British forces deployed overseas.  The base has been the location of a number of nonviolent direct actions by the pacifist Catholic Worker community over the past decade of war on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Letters should be sent to Fr. Newell via the London Catholic Worker, who will forward them once his prison location in confirmed.