Archive for the ‘Menwith Hill’ Category

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 THREE: “Criminally insane… Ordinary People”

A new day brings a new protest at Menwith Hill.  Sylvia and Betty, another close friend and ally, greet the morning traffic into the Spy Base with banners of peace whilst standing strong against an antagonist policeman.  Back at the camp personal tensions run high between Helen and Sylvia, as thoughts turn to the lack of involvement in the peace movement.  Feeling the weight of peace firmly on their shoulders, perhaps it is not surprising that the women aren’t always smiling?

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Anne and Helen reveal more about camp life, from living under canvas and the responses they get from the public to their (not so covert) operations to break into Menwith Hill.  Whilst living outdoors presents certain challenges it becomes clear that the social element of mixing with like minded individuals across the generations, makes up for any discomfort these grandmothers may endure.  Luckily in this windy lay by, just outside Menwith Hill, the police are also on hand to check they survive the elements to protest another day.


Find out more about Menwith Hill by watching episode 3 in the Opening Trilogy

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Helen sets up a new peace camp just outside the perimeter of Menwith Hill and with the help of fellow protester, Kate Holcombe, quickly establishes a place for her renewed campaign.  This episode gives a taste of camp life, from the mix of characters and tales of past police encounters to the vehicles that quickly decorate the scene: from caravans and police cars to prison vans!  There is always a serious and heartfelt purpose behind all of Helen’s antics but the women always ensure they have a good giggle, testing the police and being prepared to drive themselves to court in Helen’s new prison van if needed!


Watch Episode 3 in the Opening Trilogy to find out more about Menwith Hill.

For further information about Kate Holcombe’s campaign visit her blog: Direct Action Station

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Anne Lee is the ‘wise owl’ behind the scenes of those Disarming Grandmothers!  Often in the background, researching and preparing cases, she too has dedicated her life to opposing Menwith Hill Spy Base.  Helen and Sylvia often tap into Anne’s knowledge and together they come up with new ways to present their case and bring their campaign into the public domain.  These three Yorkshire grandmothers represent the brains, the humour and the soul of the peace movement and together they are truly disarming.



Watch Episode 2 & 3 in the Opening Trilogy to find out more about the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, Helen and Sylvia’s act of protest and Menwith Hill Spy Base. 

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In this episode we see Helen and Sylvia campaign in their own ways to raise awareness of the global implications of US Military Bases.  Helen addresses a Capital Woman Conference whilst Sylvia stands shoulder to shoulder with the Chagossians, as they await a verdict from the Appeal Court on their right to return home.


Find out more about the current situation in Diego Garcia.

Read a speech delivered by Sylvia to the UN Working Group in Geneva about the Chagossian people and their right to return home.

Find out more about the UK Chagos Support Association.

Watch ‘Stealing a Nation’ a documentary by John Pilger about Diego Garcia.


Special thanks to:

Capital Woman

Emily Thornberry MP

UK Chagos Support Association. 

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Almost a year since their arrest, Helen and Sylvia’s trial for terrorism begins.  The consequences of a conviction could result in 51 weeks in prison and/or a £5,000 fine, however, it seems when facing potential incarceration there is always time for a little light relief first!

Their defence argument centres on the legitimacy of choosing the sites which are to be designated under Section 128 of The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA).  By designating sites of nuclear and/or military interest under the act – sites which are likely to attract anti-nuclear, anti-war and environmental campaigners, they argue that freedom of speech and the right of protest is being severely threatened.

In relation to the designation of U.S Spy Base Menwith Hill under the act, they raise the question of whether a British law can and should be used to protect American interests.  With the Judge taking an interest in the designation of sites under SOCPA and how these decisions arise, it seems that these two grandmothers from Yorkshire may be onto something; the question is, are they up to it?


Have a look at press coverage from their trial: from The Telegraph and Argus and BBC Look North – Day 1 & Day 2.

For a greater understanding of their initial act of protest which led to the charge, watch “A terrorist but not a violent terrorist” in the opening trilogy.

To find out what has happened in court previously, please watch “We don’t seem to understand it”.

Read Liberty’s statement on the importance of protest on the news page.


“Peace Protest Grans on Trial” and “Judge Warns US Spy Base Grans” reproduced courtesy of the Telegraph & Argus, Bradford www.telegraphandargus.co.uk

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