TWO peace campaigners were released from prison in Scotland yesterday after an unexpected U-turn by prosecutors who dropped bail demands that they stay away from protests at nuclear bases.
Angie Zelter, 66, and Brian Quail, 79, both members of the nuclear disarmament campaign group Trident Ploughshares, were arrested on July 13 during a protest outside the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport, where Trident nuclear warheads are stored.
The pair returned to the justice of peace court — the Scottish equivalent of a magistrates’ court — in Dumbarton yesterday for an intermediate hearing on the charges they face.
In a surprise move, the procurator fiscal (public prosecutor) withdrew the demand for the undertaking to stay away from the two bases and they were given bail.
The pair headed straight to Faslane nuclear submarine base north-west of Glasgow for another protest after their release.
Jane Tallents of Trident Ploughshares said: “Their principled action was to refuse to say they would not protest.
“The procurator just dropped the insistence on the condition.
“We are obviously delighted because it was completely unreasonable to say that people should not stand at the gates of these bases, as we have done for many years.
“We have had vigils, religious services and many different kinds of gatherings at these gates. To say that someone cannot go and stand there is wrong.
“I am quite sure they will try to impose the same conditions again. Next time we take action we will have to be better prepared. Meanwhile, our friends are free.”
Ms Zelter, Mr Quail and three others have been charged with a breach of the peace after chaining themselves together across the entrance road to the base.
At their first hearing they were told they would be released on bail on condition that they did not go within 100 metres of Coulport or Faslane nuclear submarine base. The two refused to comply and were remanded in custody.
On Tuesday this week Ms Zelter’s appeal against refusal of bail was rejected by the Appeal Court in Edinburgh and she was returned to jail. The imprisonments led to protests and 3,500 people signed a petition.
SNP MSPs and MPs also voiced protests and MSP Fulton MacGregor, a member of Scotland’s justice committee, asked the Lord Advocate of Scotland to intervene.
The court also decided to move back the trial, originally set for August 3, and the campaigners will return to court on October 12.