British Quaker ‘prepared for jail’ after allegedly trying to disarm Saudi Arabia-bound fighter jet

A Quaker activist who was “just metres” from allegedly disarming Saudi Arabia-bound fighter planes with a hammer says he is prepared to spend up to 10 years in prison.
Sam Walton and Methodist reverend Daniel Woodhouse were arrested on Sunday morning after allegedly breaking into the BAE Systems weapons base in Lancashire.
It was the pair’s “last option” in their campaign for the Government to scrap arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of the Gulf state’s bloody involvement in the Yemen civil war.
It comes before a judicial review next week where judges will decide whether to ban Britain’s arms export licences for the oil-rich kingdom.
“We did not want to be arrested, absolutely not, but did we expect to be and were we prepared to be? Absolutely,” said Mr Walton, speaking to The Independent.
“We went in thinking that was a likely outcome, and that we could be sentenced from six months to 10 years if found guilty.
“We have tried every other means of protest that is less chaotic and less damaging and I really don’t want to go to prison but I’m absolutely prepared to in order to save the lives of innocent people.”
The 30-year-old and Mr Woodhouse were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and are on bail until 27 April when they may face charges.
The pair managed to get beyond fences, closed doors and sensors at the site in Warton, which they claim is home to four Typhoon jets and eight Hawks.
The former Wimbledon schoolboy and Nottingham University graduate said: “We were arrested just metres away from where planes bound for Saudi were and we were very disappointed that we couldn’t disarm a plane going toward eastern war crimes and almost certainly have saved lives.”
Symbolically, the pair entered the base precisely 21 years after four women – known as the Ploughshare Four – caused more than £1.5m in damage to a Hawk warplane at the same site.
The Hawk was destined for Indonesia where the women argued it would likely be used to kill civilians in East Timor.
The foursome were found not guilty of criminal damage at a Liverpool Crown Court after a jury deemed their action was reasonable under the Genocide Act.
In a concerted nod to continuity, Mr Walton says the duo carried one of the hammers used by the women that he borrowed, which has since been confiscated by police.
“We didn’t take the steps lightly but we really didn’t have any other option left,” said Mr Walton, who has written to MPs and demonstrated in disarmament protests since he was 15.
“Selling arms to Saudi Arabia is a crime against humanity.”
Mr Walton, who says he does not have any criminal convictions, said: “Every time that this case is talked about, Saudi Arabia, Britain and BAE don’t like it. It won’t be us who are on trial, it will be them on trial and Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen.”

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