SHE may be 89 but Hampshire great-grandmother Frances Mackeith still fights for what she believes in.

Having spent the past 40 years taking part in peace protests across the country, the defiant pensioner was never going to let her age stand in the way of her principles.

And yesterday the widow, who is not unused to brushing with the long arm of the law, found herself behind bars for just that.

Mrs Mackeith, of Oliver's Battery Crescent, near Winchester, was frogmarched from a court room for refusing to pay a fine imposed by Hertfordshire magistrates last month after she was convicted of obstructing a highway at an anti-war protest in North London in January.

The mother of six had originally denied the charge but she was found guilty and ordered to pay court costs and a £90 penalty.

She paid the court costs but was yesterday taken to the cells at Basingstoke Magistrates' Court after repeatedly refusing to pay the fine.

Last night Mrs Mackeith, who was freed at 2pm, told the Daily Echo: "I'm still hyped up but I expect I shall feel tired later, but I have no regrets and I would do it all again.

"I am pretty healthy, very obstinate and I have always had a lot of support from my friends and family.

"I was taken away by two beefy people and had to sit in a cell for three hours, where I was fed a rather revolting lunch, but I would do it again.

"It was pretty unlikely that, at my age, I was going to change my mind. For a long time I have felt that war is wrong."

Mrs Mackeith, who also has ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, has been a Quaker for 30 years, ever since she moved to Winchester with her late husband.

She began demonstrating for world peace in the 1960s and got her first taste for non-violent campaigning during the famous sit-down at Trafalgar Square.

Since then she has been arrested four times and apprehended by the Army once on Salisbury Plain.

Mrs Mackeith, who arrived at court yesterday carrying an overnight bag, had been warned by magistrates last month that if she did not pay the fine in full, she would face up to seven days in prison.

Yesterday when she was asked if she would pay by chairman of the bench Jean Cooper, she adamantly told the court: "No, I don't want to."

After 30 minutes' deliberation, Ms Cooper told Mrs Mackeith that the bench found she was wilfully refusing to pay and added: "You will be detained in court cells until court rises today."

After the sentence, her friend and fellow Quaker Maureen Pearse, from Upper Swanmore, said: "She was determined she was going to do it. She would have been prepared to go for longer. She has been protesting against war most of her life."