Four drone protesters arrested after cutting fence at RAF Waddington

Four drones protesters have been arrested after cutting their way through a fence into the base of RAF Waddigton’s Reaper Ground Control Station.

Chris Cole (51) from Oxford, Katharina Karcher (30) from Coventry, Gary Eagling (52) from Nottingham, and Penny Walker (64) from Leicester were arrested inside RAF Waddington in the morning of Monday, January 5.

The group, armed with banners and reports of civilian casualties from airstrikes in Afghanistan and Iraq, say they cut the fence to create “New Year gateway for peace”.

They then made their way towards the control station where pilots remotely operate so-called drones.

In a group statement, the protestors said: “We come to RAF Waddington today to say a clear ‘no’ to the growing normalisation and acceptability of drone warfare.

“Thanks to the marketing of drone war as ‘risk free’, ‘precise’ and above all ‘humanitarian’, war has been rehabilitated and accepted as virtually normal by those who see little or nothing of the impact on the ground thousands of miles away.

“Remote wars mean most no longer hear, see or smell the impact of bombs and missiles. With just a little effort we can almost believe that war is not happening at all.

“But behind the rebranding, war is as brutal and deadly as it has always been with civilians killed, communities destroyed, and the next generation traumatized.

“And so we have come to RAF Waddington, the home of drone warfare here in the UK to say clearly and simply ‘End the Drone War’.“

An RAF spokesperson said: “We fully respect people’s right to protest peacefully and within the law and exercise their right to peaceful protest but have a duty to protect public property and to ensure that we meet operational needs.

“MOD has a duty to maintain security at all defence installations and uses all lawful means to do so. RAF Waddington like all large Airfields has a large perimeter fence that is protected by a variety of security measures, whilst some protestors did breach the perimeter fence, Reaper operations continued completely unaffected.”

The incident is being dealt with as a police civil matter. Lincolnshire Police confirmed the four had been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass under incident 52 of January 5.