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Anti-arms trade protester convicted for obstructing highway

Campaign Against Arms Trade member Sylvia Boyes ordered to pay fine and costs totaling £440

Veteran anti-arms trade campaigner Sylvia Boyes was convicted yesterday for “obstructing the highway” during a protest at a London arms fair last September.

The 71-year-old Campaign Against Arms Trade (Caat) activist was sentenced at Stratford magistrates’ court after taking part in a protet against the DSEi arms fair.

The pensioner was the only defendant to be tried and found guilty at the court and is being made to pay a total of £440 between fines and legal costs. Ms Boyes is challenging the fines and the court has ordered for them to be deducted from her pension at a yet to be confirmed rate.

Speaking to the Star Ms Boyes said that she “accepted” the decision as she learned that courts are incapable of taking cases within contexts.

“I don’t think I acted in a disproportionate way,” she said.

“When you are dealing with the sale of weapons and torture instruments which are being used to hurt so many, what can I as a human being do that is proportionate with those facts?,” she added.

A spokesperson for Caat added: “What Sylvia was protesting against was the military and political support that the UK gives to dictatorships and the weapons that are sold at events like DSEi. Sylvia should have been congratulated on her stance. The people who should be charged are those who were selling the weapons.”

After leaving the court Ms Boyes was greeted by cheering supporters. She insisted that while other cases were built around the costs of the defence industry on public spending, her case was particularly based on what she sees as a moral standpoint.

Ms Boyes is a veteran anti-war and anti-nuclear power activist having been active in the Greenham Common peace camp in 1982. She has served time in prison for similar protest acts. Together with fellow grandmother Helen John she was the first person being arrested under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act back in 2006.

Five Christian activists demonstrating at DSEi were tried but found not guilty of a public order offence earlier this month. Charges against six other Caat activists blockading the same event were dropped on February  21, as reported by the Star last week.


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