Campaigners from across Sevenoaks have formed a group called “Sevenoaks Action for Peace with Justice” and plan to take part in the Public Interest Case Against Trident (PICAT) campaign coordinated by Trident Ploughshares.
The campaign aims to institute a citizen’s prosecution of the Government and specifically the office of the Secretary of State for Defence for breaching international law by its active deployment of the Trident nuclear weapon system.
The campaign is especially important here with Swanley and Sevenoaks MP being Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence.
The Sevenoaks group has written to the Secretary of State for Defence seeking an assurance that the UK’s nuclear weapons will not be used, or their use threatened, in such a way as to cause wholesale loss of civilian life and damage to the environment.
In the case of no response or an unsatisfactory one the Sevenoaks group will then approach their local Magistrates’ Court and ask it to start the process of a criminal prosecution against the corporate office of the Secretary of State for Defence. This will require the consent of the Attorney General. If consent for the case is not forthcoming from the Attorney General the campaign will then consider approaching the International Criminal Court.
Peace campaigner Angie Zelter, who has developed the PICAT project along with international lawyer Robbie Manson, said:
The government has consistently refused to give evidence to prove how Trident or any replacement could ever be used lawfully. This campaign is an attempt to find a court willing to examine objectively if the threat to use Trident is in fact criminal as so many of us think it is. It is a matter of vital public interest.”
Robbie Manson said:
I remain very firmly of the view that it is both an immensely worthy and worthwhile cause to pursue these matters, even in court, and with vigour given the enormity of the humanitarian need, political significance and the scale of the diplomatic hypocrisy upon which our political masters rely for the achievement of their designs.”
Jim Pragnell for Sevenoaks Action for Peace with Justice said:
Nuclear weapons are sanistised by calling them a deterrent. But Michael Fallon has said that ‘if you are going to have a deterrent you have to be prepared to use it’. He said this knowing that the use of missiles from a single Trident submarine could directly cause 10 million civilian casualties. It is inconceivable that a Prime Minister would ever give the order to launch these missiles, which is a major flaw in the theory of deterrence. I hope that this campaign will establish whether the threatened use of Trident by the Government has any legal basis. The public deserve to know this, not least those people who, unlike me, support the renewal of Trident.”
To join the Sevenoaks Action for Peace with Justice, or for more information, contact Jim Pragnell at email@example.com
The PICAT campaign is supported by Trident Ploughshares: http://tridentploughshares.org/
The Pembrokeshire PICAT group is pictured at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court.