Two anti-militarist activists were found guilty of aggravated trespass in Brighton today. The pair had glued themselves to the gates of the EDO MBM factory in the early hours of 27th April 2011 in protest at the sale of bomb rack umbilical cables called Field Replaceable Connector Systems (FRCS) for use on US warplanes and also to the Israeli military.
EDO MBM is an arms factory in Moulsecoomb, Brighton which is wholly owned by the US company, ITT Exelis.
The campaigners were charged with a breach of section 68 of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. Section 68 makes it unlawful to trespass on land, while at the same time doing an act with the intention of intimidating, obstructing or disrupting a lawful business.
The activists argued that EDO MBM’s business was not lawful as the company manufactures components which are supplied to the US that assists the use of cluster munitions.
Paul Hills, EDO MBM managing director said that he did not believe any of the components exported to the US were used to fire cluster munitions but that EDO MBM did not seek any undertakings from their US customers that their weapons components would not be used to fire cluster munitions.
The defendants provided documents clearly showing the FRCS was fitted and tested for use on the US Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW) which is known to be a cluster bomb covered under the definition of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010. Despite this residing Magistrate Peter Privett said he was“clear, credible and consistent“ and there was no reason to doubt him when he said the FRCS was not used to assist in the use of cluster bombs.
The magistrates found Pidwell and Nero guilty of aggravated trespass and sentenced them to a 24 month conditional discharge and ordered them to pay £200 each in costs. The pair plan to appeal.
On hearing the verdict Gavin Pidwell and Jessica Nero said “While we are naturally disappointed with today’s verdict, we are confident that information that emerged during the trial, combined with the existing evidence documenting EDO’s numerous breaches of law, will be enough, not only to quash our conviction but also, in due time, we hope it will be EDO and Paul Hills facing charges”.