The trial date of a Mansfield vicar accused of criminal damage after a break-in at RAF Waddington has been set.
Rev Keith Hebden (pictured), based at St Peter’s, appeared before magistrates in Lincolnshire on 4th July along with five other defendants.
The group, who claim they were staging a protest against the use of unmanned drone aircraft in Afghanistan, will go on trial on 7th October at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court.
The group told the court that while they accepted they were on the Lincolnshire base without permission, they have pleaded not guilty to the charge on the grounds that they had “a lawful reason for being there to protest against the killing of civilians through the use of drones operated from RAF Waddington”.
The other accused are Susan Clarkso (66) of Bath Street, Oxford, Christopher Cole (49), of Wilkins road, Oxford, Henrietta Cullinan (51), of Trumans Road, London, Martin Newell (45) of Mattison Road, London and Penelope Walker (62) of Gutham Street, Leicester.
Rev Hebden, of Nottingham Road, Mansfield, planted a vine and fig tree in the air-base grounds as a symbol of peace.
Following the protest, the group were arrested on site and taken to Lincoln Police Station where they were detained overnight.
Rev Hebden said that his home was also searched and personal items were removed by police.
Supporters of the defendants stood outside the court from 8.30am holding homemade banners and posters.
They chanted “Every Afghan has a name, war is not a video game” as well as other songs.
Speaking after the hearing, Rev Hebden said: “I look forward to the opportunity of returning to court in October where it will be the use of armed drones, not us, who will be on trial,”