PEACE campaigners who are accused of attacking the security fencing of a sensitive listening base with bolt croppers did it as a publicity stunt, a court heard on Monday.

The three women, two from Otley, had a television crew, a photographer and a prepared press release with them when they were arrested by Ministry of Defence Police at the United States signals intelligence base at Menwith Hill, prosecutor David Tucker told Harrogate magistrates.

Anne Lee, Helen John and Angie Zelter have all denied a charge of criminal damage and John has also pleaded not guilty to attempted criminal damage.

Mr Tucker told the court the Crown's understanding from remarks made by the women when arrested was the defence would centre around the issue

of whether or not they had a lawful excuse for what they were doing.

He was not prepared to

accept any argument that the trio had a lawful excuse for their actions.

"Issues about international crime or anything like that going on at Menwith Hill will not be admissible. What I am saying is that this was a publicity stunt."

The women had been

accompanied at the base on June 19 by a Yorkshire Television team and a photographer and when Lee was searched a press release was found.

Lee, of Somerville Terrace, Otley, and John, whose address was given as a post office box at an unspecified women's peace camp and who was said to have a home in Otley, both sought an adjournment to allow them to prepare and call evidence.

John said she was anxious to call an MP to back her case.

Zelter, 49, of Cromer, Norfolk, was not present in court, having telephoned to say she was

confined to bed with a bad back.

Presiding magistrate John Metcalfe granted an adjournment until October 30 when a trial is expected to take place.

He made no ruling on an

application by Lee that a Stipendiary magistrate should conduct proceedings, saying he would leave a decision to the court administrators when they received a written request.