Peace activists found not guilty of criminal damage
Two young peace campaigners were found not guilty today of criminal damage.
Sam Walton, a 31 year old Quaker activist from London, and Daniel Woodhouse, a Methodist minister from Leeds, said they were acting to save lives. In court Sam Walton said, “Everyone is a unique and special child of God. We are equal and connected. To destroy a human being is to destroy a part of God."
The court heard that the pair were arrested for trying to disarm Typhoon fighter jets at BAE Systems' site in Warton, Lancashire on 29 January this year. They were charged with criminal damage.
Everyone is a unique and special child of God. We are equal and connected. To destroy a human being is to destroy a part of God.- Sam Walton, Burnley Magistrates Court
They made clear they were peaceful protestors. Their supporters stood prayerfully outside Burnley Magistrates Court during the three-day trial.
The men were acting in a personal capacity rather than on behalf of the churches for whom they work. Sam Walton is Peace and Disarmament Programme Manager for Quaker Peace & Social Witness.
In a statement following the case, Paul Parker, the Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, said, “Quakers in Britain are delighted with this verdict. Sam Walton is a much respected colleague who has worked with us for seven years. Throughout his life he has demonstrated a strong personal commitment to peace."
“Quakers respect the laws of the state but our first loyalty is to God's purposes. Quakers in Britain accept the authority of the court," he continued. “However, as a faith community and an historic peace church, we will continue to challenge the immorality of the arms trade."
“Quakers value all human life and view war as failure," he said. “Sam Walton and Daniel Woodhouse were engaged in attempting to highlight the destruction of Yemen through Saudi Arabian bombing. We deplore the continued UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia."