Archive for October, 2012

EPISODE THIRTY ONE: “The Illusive Fugitive”

The guilty verdict stands and Helen and Sylvia continue their lives as convicted criminals under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.  When their peace camp is evicted it certainly seems like the end of a chapter but with Sylvia quickly re-offending, the pages ahead are all too familiar and as Helen dodges the bailiffs for unpaid court costs, the future isn’t necessarily bright but instead rebellious as these two veteran peace campaigners continue to work for peace in the only way they know how.


Click here to find out more about Sylvia’s action which led to a new arrest under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act


This is the last episode of Disarming Grandmothers and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Helen and Sylvia for trusting a filmmaker to come into their lives and for showing me a slice of British protest life that I never knew existed.  As a result of Disarming Grandmothers I am years older but hopefully also years wiser!  I strongly doubt that I have enriched your life as much as you’ve enriched mine, so thank you both.

I’d also like to thank those behind the scenes, from Steven Keevil for his unfaltering belief in the project and to all the supporters, family and friends who have donated their time and expertise, photographs and music, re-tweeted, facebooked and blogged the episodes, as well as leaving thoughtful comments on the site.

And finally, if you have taken something away from this series that has in some small way added to your life, I hope that you too will spread the word of these inspiring and extraordinary women who were once tried for terrorism whilst fighting for peace and became two very well known disarming grandmothers, who I can only hope will never fully retire.

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EPISODE THIRTY: “A big fall”

Helen continues with her appeal and is dismayed when her expert witnesses are unable to defend her argument that the interception of communications, carried out by Menwith Hill, is an illegal act.  Helen’s argument, throughout this case, has been that the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act provides a layer of protection to America’s global surveillance outside of war time, which is in breach of our human rights.  But with a lack of approved evidence to back up her claim, it seems that this veteran peace campaigner has finally been defeated.  As Helen and Sylvia leave court for the last time, emotions run high.  Realistically, the enormity of the task at hand was always going to be just out of reach, however, Helen and Sylvia’s courage and determination to try to change a global inequality and an oppressive law, is remarkable; it is undoubtedly the human spirit which held the hidden successes during this trial for justice.

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EPISODE TWENTY NINE: “Nothing to do with safety or security”

Sylvia and Betty attend a Yorkshire CND ‘Breaking the Links’ demonstration outside Menwith Hill.  The women soon discover that they are denied the opportunity to walk freely around the perimeter of the base and finding themselves ‘caged in’ and under close surveillance by the police, tensions rise.  This small group of elderly campaigners is soon outnumbered by the police; a disproportional response which is estimated, by those on the ground, to be 3:1.  Police intimidation during peaceful protest highlights the concern that if people are deterred from protesting, using simply their voice and a placard, will they find new ways to be heard which could in fact warrant such over zealous policing?

Further Information

Read CND’s evidence to the inquiry on human rights issues arising from policing and protest here.

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EPISODE TWENTY EIGHT: “A little landmark”

Helen returns to the British Courts to try to overturn her conviction as a Serious Organised Criminal.  This time, however, there is a key person missing as Sylvia steps aside for fear that another trial would take it’s toll both on her as an individual and her friendship with Helen.  Now a solo activist against the state, Helen begins her new trial optimistic that the Judge shares her concern about the interception of communications.  But with press interest dwindling and the women easily baffled by court proceedings, is it too little too late?

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