doc

A BLIND woman who campaigns against nuclear weapons faces jail for refusing to pay court fines and charges.

Susan Clarkson, 64, of Bath Street, in Cowley, will appear before Oxford Magistrates Court this morning, and said: “I am willing to go to prison if that is what it takes.”

Miss Clarkson, who works as a Christian volunteer with homeless people in Oxford, was summoned after declaring she was willfully refusing to pay the £553 in court fines, costs and compensation.

It resulted from her conviction for criminal damage and trespass at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Aldermaston on September 6 last year.

In the past Miss Clarkson has been arrested outside the White House and the Pentagon for her direct action protests against atomic weapons.

If sent to jail today it will be the Oxford Catholic Worker Movement campaigner’s second stretch behind bars, but she told the Oxford Mail she was prepared to go to prison for her beliefs.

She said: “Last September myself and two others went to Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment.

“We made a gateway in the fence with gate cutters and hung up a sign saying: ‘Open for disarmament. All welcome.’ “We are all Christian activists and we would like Aldermaston not to exist as a place to develop weapons.

“We made our gateway and went through it and knelt down to pray. We knew we would be arrested.”

Despite being registered blind and walking with a white stick, Miss Clarkson said she coped well with her last 10-day spell inside Bronzefield prison in Surrey for not paying an earlier fine.

She said: “It was very interesting and the women were very supportive. I am 64 and visually impaired, but it was interesting to be with the women and talk to them.

“I was not treated badly , but I have to remember if I go again, it might not be so nice.”

Miss Clarkson pleaded not guilty to the charges at Newbury Magistrates’ Court, but was convicted by magistrates and on June 21 was given a conditional discharge for 18 months.

She was also ordered to pay compensation of £308 to AWE and £225 costs to the Crown Prosecution Service.

She added: “This is the third time I’ve refused to pay fines.

“As soon as I got the letter from Newbury Magistrates’ saying ‘you must pay’ I wrote a letter back saying I willfully refused because I had acted according to my conscience and I asked them to transfer my case to Oxford Magistrates’ Court.”

The Christian charity worker became involved in direct action against nuclear weapons in 2001.