On 9 August, two census resisters opposed to arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin’s contract for census data processing came before Dale Street Magistrates Court in Liverpool.
Sarah Ledsom and Andy Manifold’s cases, ongoing since last December, have now been adjourned to a proposed trial date of 8 October. Both object to the fact that Lockheed Martin UK, a wholly owned subsidiary – and flag of convenience – for Lockheed Martin US, was awarded a £150 million contract to process the census data by the British government.
As well as hearing human rights challenges to the prosecution under the 1920 Census Act, the court will consider whether there has been an abuse of process and serious inconsistency in the way these and other census cases have been prosecuted.
Around 400 cases were brought to court from possibly over a million failures to return census forms. In recent months, a number of cases have been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) without explanation. In other instances, public funds are being wasted on the cases that drag on for months with repeated pre-hearings and last minute adjournments.
There have been a number of judicial reviews challenging aspects of the prosecutions, including one brought on behalf of Nigel Simons.
Nagasaki Day and Lockheed Martin
The hearing coincided with the 67th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki (9 August 1945). The B-29 planes, Enola Gay and Bockscar, that drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were built by the American Glenn L Martin company, now Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin is now one of the world’s largest arms companies. Among other activities it manufactures Trident nuclear missiles, carried on British and American submarines.
Defendant Sarah Ledsom of Bromborough, Wirral, who is a full time carer for her father as well as being disabled with rheumatoid arthritis herself, said:
As a Christian, I am disgusted that the government entered into a contract with this immoral and unethical company and is now prosecuting me for taking a moral stance. I am standing up for all the innocent children slaughtered, maimed and or traumatised by the very weapons manufactured and supplied by Lockheed Martin and I would do it again.
For interviews, contact Sarah Ledsom: 0151 334 4080 or email: noconcensus(at)yahoo*co*uk.