F a i r f o r d C o a c h A c t i o n
Organisations - Politicians - Non-Passengers (eg- Mark Thomas) - Coach Passengers
The following quotes are available for writing about the Fairford Coach legal campaign. All quotes must be attributed, and the intent of the quote must not be distorted by word ommission or alteration.
Quotes from Organisations (back to top)
"Amnesty International expressed concern about the chilling effect on the rights to freedom of assembly, peaceful protest and expression, insofar as the judgment's finding that preventing the coaches from proceeding to Fairford was lawful, and that, as a result, the police actions had not violated Jane Laporte's right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression."
Amnesty International, Europe and Central Asia: Summary of Amnesty International's Concerns in the Region, January - June 2004
"The right to peaceful protest is an important foundation of democracy. The actions of Gloucestershire police not only prevented peaceful protesters from exercising their legitimate rights on the day, but will also have a serious chilling effect on the rights of others if allowed to be repeated. Furthermore, the lengthy detention of the protesters was a shocking breach of their right to personal liberty."
Alex Gask, Solicitor for Liberty
Quotes - MPs, MEPs, Mayor of London, and London Assembly (back to top)
DAVID DREW - MP
"I attended the demonstration at RAF Fairford. It was well attended but peaceful throughout. I can see no reason why those who wished to legitimately demonstrate were not allowed to do so rather than being stopped in transit and I hope that this matter can now be resolved so that free speech and justice remain paramount in the United Kingdom."
David Drew, Labour and Co-operative MP for Stroud
LYNNE JONES - MP
"Stop and search powers under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act (2000) were used 2132 times at RAF Fairford as people demonstrated there in 2003. By contrast during the same period, there were only 56 searches under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994). No one was subsequently arrested or prosecuted as a result of the 2132 searches, which clearly shows that the Terrorism Act was used to harass people protesting against the war on Iraq."
Lynne Jones, Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak
JEAN LAMBERT - MEP
"The right to peaceful protest is a cornerstone of democracy and has to be defended whether in Beijing, Diyarbakir, Rangoon or Fairford. Democracy should not have different standards for home and abroad."
Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP for London, England
CAROLINE LUCAS - MEP
"The UN Secretary-General has now confirmed what many of us already knew - that the attack on, and occupation of, Iraq was illegal. The right to peaceful protest on the other hand, remains a legal cornerstone of any civilised democracy. This detention of peaceful protestors against an illegal and immoral war is an outrageous abuse of power. The Court of Appeal must ensure that justice is done and that the right to peaceful protest is upheld."
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP for South East England
KEN LIVINGSTONE - MAYOR OF LONDON
The right to protest is fundamental in a democracy - a right millions choose to exercise in opposition to the war with Iraq.
It is essential that courts uphold this right.
Ken Livingstone - Mayor of London
JENNY JONES - LONDON ASSEMBLY / EX-DEPUTY MAYOR
"There was no need to turn away the coaches from the demo, let alone detain them. I attended the original High Court hearings in January and February where the judges ruled that police can prevent ordinary people from attending legal demonstrations. Police are now appealing for permission to detain innocent Londoners who wish to exercise their democratic rights by attending a demonstration. I fully support the Fairford Coach detainees in their struggle for basic human rights." (September 2004)
"Stopping the Fairford coaches was an outrageous use of police resources. Until recently here in London, the police classed environmental protesters with 'burglars and other criminals'. It's time the police realised that peaceful civil rights activists are not terrorists, but people who are concerned about the lack of democracy and are fighting for all of us." (September 2004)
"To join a peaceful demonstration is accepted as a basic right in this country... they were, in effect, arrested without having done anything wrong." (from 15 January 2004 News Release)
Also see Jenny Jones' news releases -
15 January 2004 - Deputy Mayor appalled by Met Police Illegal Arrests
Jenny Jones, London Assembly and Ex-Deputy Mayor (Green Party Member)
Quotes from Non-passengers (back to top)
MARK THOMAS - COMEDIAN
"If you only see one case this year make it this one!"
"Gloucestershire police must be the envy of the human rights-abusing cop world. From Turkey to Indonesia they will say, 'Kidnapping peace protestors! How did they get away with that one?'" (Zoo Weekly 24-30 Jan 2004)
"Maybe there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for unlawfully detaining 120 people. Maybe they just got carried away with last year's idea of pre-emptive strikes and thought, 'Let's not wait for an actual crime to occur. Let's get the innocent.'" (Zoo Weekly 24-30 Jan 2004)
"Were British protesters, armed with little more than a frisbee and a bag of plastic toy soldiers, really in danger of being shot by the US military in Gloucestershire?" (New Statesman, Monday 1st March 2004 - "Mark Thomas wonders why the police fear frisbees")
"In the circumstances, you have to admire the protesters' restraint." (New Statesman, Monday 1st March 2004 - "Mark Thomas wonders why the police fear frisbees")
"One can only guess the amount of magic mushrooms a sane person would have to consume to believe that a frisbee constituted a genuine threat to roughly 3,000 police officers." (New Statesman, Monday 1st March 2004 - "Mark Thomas wonders why the police fear frisbees")
Mark Thomas, Comedian/Writer
Quotes from Passengers (back to top)
"If it was so important to stop the coach loads of protestors from reaching Fairford, why was I allowed to get off one of the coaches and hitch hike my way to the base with two of my friends? Police made no attempt to stop us from getting off the coach or openly walking off along the road in the direction of Fairford. If the police want us to take their claims about us or the situation seriously, how can they justify letting some of us out of their control?"
Heather Cooper (39)
"My effective imprisonment in a coach driven away from a major demonstration at USAF Fairford against war with the Iraqi people was a denial of my right to protest. People in the UK still enjoy considerable freedom to protest. This was won by brave, persistent and largely non violent struggle by the Chartists, the Trades Unions, the Suffragettes and others. I must support resistance to such curtailment of my freedom. If I and others do not I will lose it."
Chris Gwyntopher (61)
(Refugee Caseworker and Student)
"I was surprised and upset by the intimacy of the personal search, the police officer put his hands in my trouser pockets and ran his hands all over my body. Initialy I assumed this was simply thorough search procedure, but my large jacket recieved no more than a cursory examination.
"The inspector had told us that it was a search for weapons but the officers who searched me were more interested in my personal papers and my sun hat (which they finaly agreed was not a disguise). I had my groin felt for evidence of a pen knife but the coach itself had only one police woman walk down the isle, she didn't check the lugage compartments or under the seats which would have been far better places to hide weapons than my crotch.
"I believe that before we even set off someone had made the decision to turn back the coaches from London and other cities. I am certain that the search was intended primarily to gather information about the demonstrators and to humiliate us in preparation for the abuse we were to suffer for the rest of the day."
Eric Klim (31)
"I couldn't believe what I experienced on the day. We were very compliant and good natured, and so were some of the police during the searches. I was so sure that they were simply using this search as a delaying tactic. It completely shocked me when they boarded the coaches and told us they feared a breach of peace could occur and we were being sent away. I immediately phoned for legal advice and discovered that there was no known police power to escort us away without arresting us. I tried to exit the coach and managed to wedge the door open several inches while police tried to shut it from the outside. I called out that I believed the actions being taken were not legal, and that I wished to speak to a senior officer. More police came to press on the door from the outside, and eventually they had the door closed.
"During the escort, we kept on being surprised as the police handed the escort on to the next county police force. We couldn't believe that we were being treated like we were criminals after being so polite and compliant at the searches. It was humiliating not to be allowed any means of communication with the police. I eventually dialled 999 in order to negotiate permission to stop to use toilets. The Thames Valley Police assured me that we were not being detained, and we were free to exit the motorway. In reality 4-6 motorcycle police drove along blocking the exits as we passed. My friend had to pee in a sandwich box at the front of the coach. She was fully visible to the police who were videotaping the coaches throughout the journey.
"When we got back to London, I couldn't really face anything, and I sat in a café with my friend for hours. When it got dark, we went to the Edith Cavell statue by the National Portrait Gallery. My friend left the flowers that she had intended to leave at the gates of the Fairford base, and I put up a small memorial sign for Rachel Corrie who had been killed the previous week while attempting to stop a house demolition in Rafah, in the Occupied Territories."
Jesse (male, age 31)