The Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB)  have continually monitored the planning applications made by the Ministry of Defense Land Agent (Defence Estates’ Organization, Catterick Garrison - on behalf of the US Government) for Menwith Hill to Harrogate Council for over 10 years.
Planning applications are submitted to Harrogate Council for information only, they have no power of veto.
It may, however (if it receives sufficient objections) initiate proceedings which may lead to a public enquiry. In 1996 CAAB learned that a significant development was to take place at MHS.
Some time later they found a press release tucked away in a file for two radomes, which said:
Menwith Hill would soon be the home for the European Relay Ground Station for the New Space Based Infra Red System .
In December 1998 the Star Wars role of MHS was further exposed on television by Richard Sadler  and in October 1999 Lindis Percy of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases made an application for a Writ to stop this construction.
The Writ (later a Claim) was issued by the High Court against four defendants:
SBIRS dishes and
radomes (project GRAPNEL) at Menwith Hill (photos by Craig Stennett
The American Base Commander successfully claimed immunity from UK court proceedings under the "Visiting Forces Act".
The other defendants contested that the claim be struck out on the grounds of ’Abuse of Process of the Court’. However, the High Court decided the Claim should be heard. Eventually however, President Clinton’s decision on 1 September 2000 to leave the fate of the NMD programme to his successor, forced CAAB to withdraw the writ after all .
The First Defendant is now claiming £16,173.06p costs and the 2/3/4 Defendants are claiming £11,000 costs against Lindis. However, CAAB will still continue with this action, and Fylingdales was later included in the Claim as another base to be used as part of ’Son of Star Wars’ .
Now - with the election of
George W Bush to the US presidency
and the appointment of Dennis Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense - the
US development of a Star Wars (or National Missile Defense)
program is almost certain. Menwith Hill’s role in these plans is
well recognized - the debate and protest continues
However, the SBIRS High infrared detection system has become
one of the US Defense Department’s biggest white elephants - the
SBIRS-High Increment 1 software was finally installed at Buckley Air
Force Base in Aurora, Colo., almost two years late, but the
satellites themselves are plagued with problems involving the
infrared detection system.
There is no doubt that, through its
communication, relaying and eavesdropping capabilities, Menwith
plays an important role in helping the US military in its plans to
dominate and control space, despite the effects on International
Treaties (such as the ABM Treaty, the Outer Space Treaty and the Non
Proliferation Treaty) and the mistrust and concern expressed by
people and their governments all over the world
The US military has described space-based intelligence collection as a “key force-multiplier for future military operations”.
The close linkage between space-based intelligence collection and military operations was clearly spelt out in congressional testimony a few years ago by the then Director of the National Reconnaissance Office:
The objective is to enable the US
military to deliver "precise military firepower anywhere in the
world, day or night, in all weather".
The 350 mile range radar had been out of
service for a number of months prior to the invasion.
Later in October:
Signals intelligence systems also provided warning of impending Iraqi Scud missile launches. The missile launchers:
Also, one way of assessing the
effectiveness of bomb damage is to monitor the amount of radio
traffic after attack. 
A little while later it was reported that:
Also in early February, it was reported that Soviet advisors were providing the Iraqi,
SIGINT was also central to efforts to attack Iraqi leadership assets, including Saddam Hussein himself.
SIGINT was instrumental in the identification of the Amiriya bomb shelter in Baghdad which was alleged to have sent signals from the shelter to a remote antenna via cable in order to avoid disclosing the location.  Despite there being limited photographic coverage, apparently "intercepts of military communications from the shelter were monitored" close to the actual bombing which killed hundreds of civilians on 12 February 1991. However, a,
Following the controversy that surrounded the bombing, "some political leaders pushed to release intercepted radio signals from the site,"  but this never happened.
Another use of SIGINT is highlighted when:
According to Professor Des Ball of the Australian National University, during the Gulf War satellites controlled by Menwith Hll’s sister base at Pine Gap intercepted Iraqi communications and radar signals.
These satellites monitored
critical communications channels within Iraq, including those used
by the Iraqi military high command.
The objective then is to enable the US
military to deliver "precise military firepower anywhere in the
world, day or night, in all weather". 
In a short formal ceremony the commander, Lt Col Earl White made the following statement:
Also, Maj. Kurt Gaudette, director of operations for the new squadron was reported as stating that:
And John Pike, director of globalsecurity.org was quoted as saying:
Menwith Hill had an important role as an
interceptor of and a conduit for intelligence and command
information in the Gulf war and the War on Iraq and its activities
are likely to continue to expand as the US develops more space based
war fighting systems.
An early protest -
Yorkshire Campaigners call for independence
Opposition to the base has been active since the 1950s.
Most of what we know about the base has been put together from various sources by Duncan Campbell. One important source of information has been that obtained from within the base by peace campaigners and from their continuous observation and vigilance.
There have also been demonstrations, peace camps, non-violent blockades, trespass, questions in parliament, letters to the press and radio and TV coverage.
And the protests continue.
A mixed gender weekend peace camp was originally set-up by Otley Peace Action Group (OPAG - played a major role in raising public awareness and protest at MHS in the 1980s) on 29 April 1983 . At least 10 other weekend mixed peace camps were held at MHS by other local peace groups.
This eventually led to the setting up of the permanent mixed peace camp in July 1984 , which existed for three and a half years until 1987.
The campers provided a focal point for disseminating information about the base to members of the public.
They held numerous demonstrations and entered the base on
many occasions. There were many arrests and appearances in court.
Local peace groups produced many leaflets about the base. OPAG
supported the mixed peace camp and did a weekly food run. Many
people were regularly supported by OPAG in court. Public meetings
and actions at the base were also organized.
spectacular silver moonbow on the night of 30 January 1994 inspired
the name ’Moonbow Corner’ for a second campsite on the more visible
SE corner of the base alongside the major A59 road. In May 1994 a
ten day "Amazon Festival" was attended by over 100 women - despite
the rain there were many excursions onto the base. On the last day
the sun shone and 6 women stayed on to set up the full-time "Womenwith
Hill" peace camp.
The acquisition of a large mobile home and the laying of gravel paths and flower beds further demonstrated the women’s resolve to stay, consequently the North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) Highways’ Authority obtained a County Court Possession Order for Moonbow Corner and the Camp was evicted on 18 April 1995 .
7 women chained to vans were arrested (although all
charges against them were later dropped) and mounds of earth & rocks
were dumped to prevent re-occupation. However the women had already
anticipated the eviction and had moved onto a lay-by ¼ mile to the
On the grounds that the Women’s Peace Camp constituted a danger to the public by being a distraction to motorists using the A59 highway, and that the camp was an unlawful incursion onto land belonging to the Highways Authority.
Menwith Hill Women’s
Peace Camp - (pictures from Anne Lee)
On 22 June 1998 , at the High Court in Leeds, Mr Justice Hooper found the camp to be unlawful and injuncted three women, Anne Lee, Helen John and Jenny Gaiawyn not to reside overnight on the site, nor in the vicinity of Menwith Hill.
The Highways Authority went back to the High Court on 29 October 1998 to seek a Possession Order for the lay-by land. The hearing was adjourned to allow for new Human Rights legislation to be taken into consideration. The judge ordered that the camp site be cleared of all but one token caravan. The women complied with the High Court Order & removed nine caravans & all equipment from the site on 27 November 1998 .
At that meeting Menwith Hill’s
complaints against the camp were discussed, as were ideas on how to
evict the peace camp without appearing to involve the station
authorities. If the NSA were seen to be interfering with the right
of UK citizens to demonstrate, would be embarrassing and politically
The judge recognised that they have a serious and credible cause and on 14 July 1999 allowed the women the right to occupy the lay-by with an Alternative Information Centre during the day (from 7am to 11pm every day) but not to stay over night. The women are currently raising funds for a vehicle and they still keep up a regular presence there .
More details of
their campaign can be found through newsletters and on the internet.
The Military Land Byelaws were first brought in as a reaction to the protest against Cruise missiles at Greenham Common in April 1985 by the then Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Heseltine.
The intention was to make trespass a criminal offence and therefore arrestable and so women could be criminalised to stop their actions of resistance.
Over the years many hundreds of women were arrested, detained, convicted and imprisoned under these byelaws. On 12 July 1990, after a four year journey through the courts, starting with the Newbury Magistrates and ending in the House of Lords, the byelaws were held to be ’ultra vires’ - outside of the Minister’s powers - and, so, ’ab initio’ - from the beginning.
The Greenham byelaws were adjudged to ’interfere with the
rights of common’ and so did not affect the status of the byelaws at
The case against Lindis Percy and John Bugg was heard at Ripon Magistrates’ Court in 1991.
The ruling by Mr J. Barry
 (the Stipendary
Magistrate) that the onus of proof of the validity of the byelaws
was on the Prosecution not the Defence, was appealed to the High
Court by the Director of Public Prosecutions. The High Court appeal
was heard on 31 July 1992 and the Judgment by Woolf and Pill
held for the first time that the byelaws at HMS Forest Moor and Menwith Hill Station were invalid.
Eventually it was
heard by Judge Crabtree  in York County Court in July 1993 .
Judge Crabtree ruled reluctantly (after an application made by the
Secretary of State for Defence) that the case should be sent back to
the High Court. In his ruling Judge Crabtree said that if Ms Percy
was right in her defence it would have meant that all the agreements
and arrangements between the US and British Governments would have
to be renegotiated.
However, a number of documents disclosed as a consequence of this action revealed the history of how a small group of people in London made the decision to hand over vast areas of land to the US visiting forces in the late 40s /early 50s (the "NATO Status of Forces Agreement"). 
It was also revealed that the land was
compulsorily purchased at the request of the US. Among the secret
documents disclosed were details of the ’security of tenure’
agreement which allowed the Americans use of the land for 21 years
renewable every 21 years on request of the USAF. There were also
details of how bases should be referred to as ’RAF’ and not USAF.
Lindis Percy and Rachel Greaves lost the case after the MOD successfully challenged the Woolf and Pill ruling, which resulted in the 1986 byelaws being declared valid again. An appeal to the House of Lords by Lindis Percy and Rachel Greaves against this ruling could not be pursued because legal aid was denied.
This resulted in the somewhat
farcical situation whereby the people who had had their convictions
quashed should have technically been found guilty again!
The Secretary of State for Defense also stated that court judgments,
Although the 1986 byelaws were reinstated by the High Court in 1993 the Ministry of Defence Police were reluctant to use them.
The Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Portillo, signed new byelaws on 19 January 1996 when the station became ’RAF’ Menwith Hill and Squadron Leader Edward Sumner was appointed "RAF Commander".
The new byelaws came into effect on 19 February 1996 and the day after Lindis Percy was arrested and charged under them.
5 days later Helen John and Anne Lee (two women from the Women’s Peace Camp) entered the base and called at the home of the US Base Commander, Colonel G Dickson Gribble.
They refused to leave and were arrested for trespass, contrary to the new byelaws.
The women argued,
On 4 September 1996 at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court they were convicted by Stipendary Magistrate Mr Neville White and sentenced to 2 years conditional discharge.
The defendants appealed to the Crown Court and obtained witness summonses for the Prime Minister (John Major), the Secretary of State for Defense (Michael Portillo), the Home Secretary (Michael Howard), the ex-Secretary of State for Defence (Malcolm Rifkind), the US Base Commander, the "RAF Commander" and the chief executives of British Telecomm, Mercury Communications and Vodaphone.
However, none of these actually ever appeared in person.
Eventually, on Friday 5 September 1997 Judge Crabtree  at York Crown Court upheld the appeal and judged the military byelaws invalid because they took in land which was not being using for military purposes.
Evidence extrapolated by Duncan Campbell from BT’s letter to the court, showed that the base is now capable of sending back to the US two million intercepts per hour, this could be a fraction of the total number of intercepts made - only those thought to be of further interest are passed on. The judge accepted that probably the Interceptions of Telecommunications Act was being violated, as it is unlikely that the Home Secretary can issue two million warrants per hour!
The judge also condemned BT
for revealing confidential arrangements made with the NSA for the
connection in 1992 of 3 (now 4) digital optical fibre cables -
capable of carrying more than 100,000 telephone calls and other
messages - to Menwith Hill.
They should have sent the original Appeal against MHS byelaws convictions by Anne Lee and Helen John (Menwith Women’s Camp) back to the Crown Court to be dismissed and to have both women’s convictions re-instated .
After losing in the High Court, the two women notified the Ministry
of Defence lawyers that they did not intend to appeal to the House
of Lords, but wished to introduce a new line of argument in the
lower courts (to examine the powers granted to the Defence Secretary
under the Military Lands Act, 1892 - it would be an abuse of process
to use an Act of Parliament for a purpose for which it was not
Referring to the earlier ruling of Judge Crabtree, Judge Carnwath said,
He also said,
Judge Carnwath reimposed a six month suspended
prison sentence over one year as from that date.
After her release from prison at the end of July she continued to
challenge the byelaws by walking on a corner of the base.
Although there have been a number of arrests for breach of the byelaws by several women (who are attempting to challenge their validity in the courts), the Crown Prosecutor has refused to pursue them to trial. In March 2000 , the Crown Prosecutor stated,
So, now on the one hand the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) insist that the byelaws are valid and in force - on the other hand they are refusing to charge peaceful ’trespassers’ who are in breach of them.
There seems to be a
deliberate policy by the MDP to prevent cases coming to court,
thereby denying the citizen the right to challenge the validity of
the byelaws again.
(picture by Steve Riding from
Yorkshire Evening Post 5/7/00)
Former CND chair Buce Kent flanked by Chrisitne Dean and Lindis Percy at the Menwith Hill base during the "Independence FROM America" protest on July 4th 2000.
demonstrations organized by the Campaign for the Accountability of
American Bases (CAAB) have become an annual event at Menwith Hill -
see reports for 1999 , 2000 , 2001 and 2002 also see details for the
2003 demonstration .
One month later Lindis was also charged with a ’racially motivated’ offence under the Crime and Disorder Act for allegedly ’trailing the US flag on the ground - forcing an American to drive over the flag’. She was also charged with a similar offence under the Public Order Act (minus the ’racial’ element). However, ten days before the trial was due the Crown Prosecution Service discontinued the ’racially aggravated’ charge.
After a three day trial, on 27 April 2001 , Anni and Lindis were found not guilty of ’obstruction of the highway’. Peter Nuttall, the District Judge, ruled that they were not on the public highway as the area was judged to be part of the ’applicable area’ of the Military Land byelaws and they were therefore on private land.
Rajiv Menon (acting for Lindis) said that the prosecution was based on evidence from three American zealots and stated,
In his ruling the District Judge said,
However, in a strange twist of justice - on 18 May 2001 Lindis was found guilty of obstruction and an offence under the Public order Act for holding the same peaceful witness and protest (using the US flag with ’STOP STAR WARS’ on it) at the Deep and Near Space Tracking Facility at Feltwell, Norfolk on 16 December 2000. 
The District Judge (Patrick Heley) ruled that there was no breach of the Human Rights Convention (Article 10 and 11).
He made it clear that there was a balance to be made between the right to protest and the rights of the Americans to be protected from insult and abuse of their symbol. Lindis was fined £200 for the Public Order offence, £100 for ’obstruction of the highway’ and ordered to pay £250 costs.
Lindis had also expressed criticism of the decision of the court and
how his ruling effectively decided in future what symbols would be
acceptable in any peaceful protest. As a result she was later fined
£250 for being ’in contempt of court’. She will be appealing the
decisions of Patrick Heley .
The show included a balloon ride over Menwith by Mark and his team and an overt "surveillance" of the American Embassy in London. Mark Thomas was also master of ceremonies on 26 October 1998 when Privacy International presented the first ’Big Brother Lifetime Achievement’ award to Menwith Hill.
At the same event Lindis Percy of CAAB was awarded the ’Winston Lifetime Achievement’ for her continued campaigning against Menwith Hill and similar bases in the UK.
4th March 200 demonstration at Menwith Hill - pictures from CAAB web-site 
A Quaker Meeting for Worship is held bimonthly and hosted by CAAB  who also maintain an annual 4 July Independence from America Day Protest . On 4 March 2000, CAAB and Yorkshire CND organized a national demonstration at Menwith Hill to draw attention to its role as a part of the US "Star Wars" system  and on 7 October 2000 a demonstration was held there by CAAB as one of the 63 actions in 16 countries which formed the "International Day of Protest against the Militarisation of Space" organized by the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. 
This site has always been known as an area which contained fauna and flora of special scientific interest - a wetland site - and the fight to preserve the rare flowers had been going on since the 1980s when Hazel Costello of OPAG contacted Harrogate Naturalist Society to preserve the site.
Anne Lee had raised the issue of the preservation of the orchids in July 1998 .
In fact, the construction of the perimeter security fence towards the end of 1999 had been held up for nearly a year while an expert on orchids from the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh (Dr Richard Bateman) inspected and assessed the flowers in bloom in a corner of the base . The MOD (on behalf of the Americans) were forced to reroute the fence-line so as to avoid damaging the orchid reserve.
The defendants admitted their action, stating that it was justified because the fence has been erected to protect Echelon & Star Wars and that, if the owners of the fence (the UK government, i.e. the British people) were aware of the crimes it is designed to conceal, they would approve of the defendants’ act.
The women were able to present evidence to justify their action - this included showing the TV programmes ("The Hill" produced by Duncan Campbell in 1993 and "Uncle Sam’s Eavesdroppers" produced by Richard Sadler in 1998 ) and a great deal of recently published material.
Picture from Wharfedale Newspapers, June 22 2000 
In summing up, District Judge Browne stated that it was incumbent on the defendant to prove that this was their state of mind at the time the act was committed - however, the ’burden of proof’ is on the prosecution to prove otherwise.
The judge ordered a re-trial and on 3 May 2001 all three were found guilty District Judge Alderson said she would insist on a custodial sentence for the £962 of damage  and the women were in fact sentenced on 21 May.
Helen John and Anne Lee were given three and two months imprisonment respectively. Angie Zleter was not sentenced as she was not present in court and a warrant was issued for her arrest. At that time Helen John had declared herself an independent candidate in the General Election standing against Tony Blair in his Sedgefield constituency on a "No Star Wars" platform.
The sentences were unusually harsh as in cases of this kind the English and Scottish courts would normally impose a fine relating to the amount of damage. If peace protesters refuse to pay on grounds of conscience, the courts would then sentence them to a term of imprisonment which, in England, would be two weeks for damage under £500 .
However, both women said they would go on campaigning
at the base - in fact Helen was amused by the idea that a prison
sentence would serve as a deterrent when such an important issue was
at stake .
Included in the submission was material to evidence that the ’Star Wars’ developments were going ahead without the approval of the UK Parliament, that ECHELON activities contravened national and international laws and that considerable environmental damage had been effected by the base (including a detrimental impact on the Orchid Reserve).
However, the Ombudsman stated that she had no
authority to deal with any of these complaints and recommended that
a case against the Ministry of Defense be taken to the Parliamentary
Ombudsman. This is further confirmation that there is no official
oversight of any of Menwith Hill’s activities.
The Conference included speakers and workshops on Menwith Hill and its role in Star Wars and also on Echelon .
Despite being given Aggravated Trespass
notices, no arrests were made and the protesters left with their
locks and banners in hand.
On 4 July 2003 about 400 people joined a ’Gatecrasher’s Ball’ demonstration calling for "Independence From America" protest against the bases involvement in the war on Iraq.
Despite a massive police presence many people entered the base and there were 12 arrests (most released without charge). Mark Thomas was Master of Ceremonies once more suitably dressed for a Ball.