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Protesters to appear in court

04 October 2013

Making a stand: Dr Keith Hebden (far left) with fellow protesters, in July 

Making a stand: Dr Keith Hebden (far left) with fellow protesters, in July 

AN ANGLICAN priest is scheduled to appear in court on Monday accused of causing criminal damage at an RAF base during a peace protest earlier this year.

The Assistant Curate of St Peter and St Paul, and of St Mark's, Mansfield, the Revd Dr Keith Hebden, was one of six campaigners detained on the base at Waddington, in Lincolnshire, on 3 June - the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression.

They were protesting at, they allege, the use of British drone aircraft, controlled from Waddington, in strikes on Afghanistan.

Dr Hebden and his companions cut a hole in the perimeter fence, and, while he and Susan Clarkson, a former Roman Catholic nun who is now a Quaker, planted a peace garden, which included a vine and fig tree, the others tried to locate the drones control centre.

They were arrested and held overnight before being released on bail, pending trial before a district judge at Lincoln Magistrates Court.

This week, Dr Hebden said that they were not disputing the evidence against them, but would plead not guilty "on the grounds that we used 'reasonable force'to prevent a greater crime. . . We will argue that the UK's use of armed drones in Afghanistan is a crime according to both International and English law.

"I'm looking forward to the hearing. Whatever the outcome, we believe that it is the armed drones that are being put on trial, and that it is our Government and those who commit war crimes on its behalf who need to be held to account."

To coincide with the hearing there will be an all-day peace vigil at St Mark's, Mansfield.

Dr Hebden was one of three priests who said they performed an exorcism at the London Arms Fair last month (News, 13 September).

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