October 7, 2013 4.25 pm This story is over 126 months old

Drone protesters fined for criminal damage at RAF Waddington

Drone protesters: Two priests, two pensioners and a partially blind researcher, have been found guilty of criminal damage after breaking into RAF Waddington.

Six peace activists, including two priests, two pensioners and a partially blind researcher, have been found guilty of causing criminal damage after breaking into RAF Waddington this summer.

On October 7, a group of around 20 demonstrators gathered at Lincoln Magistrates Court to stage an anti-drone protest alongside six people on trial.

The group have all been sentenced to six months conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 each in costs and compensation.

Operations at the air base were halted on June 3, 2013 when at around 8:45 am the group entered the via a hole in a fence made with bolt cutters, a court heard.

The six intruders, once inside, leafleted members of staff, paraded banners and pinned up pictures of drone attack victims.

Activists at the Waddington protest included members of the Stop the War Coalition, CND, The Drone Campaign Network and War on Want.

The direct action was staged in order to protest the use of armed drones over Afghanistan. RAF Waddington began flying armed intelligence and surveillance missions remotely from the base in April 2013.

Penelope Walker (62) was one of the six on trial at Lincoln Magistrates Court. “The District Judge has listened to our arguments and he said that he made the judgement with a heavy heart,” she said.

“I am still very glad that we did it and that I was a part of it. I think it’s important that people are aware of what is happening in the world.

“People perhaps don’t understand that this is the British base which is attacking about two or three times a week. It’s here on Lincolnshire soil that people are giving the go-ahead to kill people in Afghanistan. The distance separates you from the end result. A blip on the screen doesn’t look like a human being. It’s very dark.”

Richard Johnston (73) was protesting at the trial on October 7. He said: “It’s interesting because now war is being waged from our soil, just down the road. We are very near a war zone. You think of all the messages that are actually going out from that base and killing people.”

Convenor of the Stop the War Coalition in Cambridge Dennis O’malley (59) said: “A key slogan from today is ‘every Afghan has a name’. The issue of drones is about it becoming another Space Invaders game.

“The public opinion in the US is that they are already turning against drones. They realise that it’s a horror. If it’s a turning point and we are beginning to move away from drones then that’s something.”