This afternoon Phil and Toby, two friends of mine from Oxford, were found not guilty in a unanimous verdict at Bristol Crown Court. They were charged with conspiracy to cause criminal damage at an air force base in England in March 2003 when they tried to safely disable US B52 bombers in a non-violent and accountable action to prevent them from bombing Iraq. Their main defence, with which the jury agreed, was that they were acting to prevent damage to life and property in Iraq, and war crimes by the aggressors (the use of cluster bombs and radioactive “bunker-busters”).
I think Toby sums it up quite well:
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people have still suffered as a result of the Government’s actions. It shouldn’t have come to the point that people had to take direct action to try to check the abuse of executive power.
It shouldn’t, but it did, and I have a huge amount of respect for Phil and Toby for having the courage to take action trying to stop an illegal war. They both spent three months in jail after their arrest and the last four years fighting this legal battle. Thank you both. The verdict today has highlighted, once again, that the UK government acted illegally in supporting the US-led attack on Iraq. It will be interesting to see the coverage in the media tomorrow as the conclusion of Phil and Toby’s case thrusts this issue back into public view.