15.03.2010 Animal rights activist using FOI laws to target universities
A convicted animal rights activist is using freedom of information laws to force universities to reveal details of their animal experiments, raising fears that scientists involved could suffer renewed intimidation.
The requests for information, which have been sent to every university in Britain, ask for details of facilities and laboratories licensed for such experiments, as well as breeding centres and a list of different animals used, by species.
The requests were sent by Luke Steele, an animal rights activist based in Yorkshire. He was last year convicted of conspiracy to interfere with a contractual relationship, so as to harm an animal research organisation, after being arrested near an isolated Lincolnshire farm that supplies rabbits for research.
Several universities have already replied to the FOI requests. Steele said the information gathered would be used to publicise research and target demonstrations, some of which are planned for next month.
"We're putting the FOIs in just to find out what is happening with vivisection at the universities. If they've got nothing to hide, then it's not a problem for them to put the information out there," he said.
Groups promoting next month's planned protests against university research, such as Stop Animal Experiments at Bradford, for which Steele acts as spokesman, encourage people to carry out "filming inside these laboratories". Steele said he did not want people to break the law, and that protestors could find imaginative ways to get inside. "Obviously we can't control what everybody does," he said. The requests from Steele have triggered concern among some university researchers. "The way these questions are phrased, I don't think this is an exercise in openness," said Syed Khawar Abbas, veterinary officer at the University of Leeds. "This information can be used for intimidation. In the wrong hands, this information can cause problems for our scientists."
An information officer at a different university, who did not want to be identified, said: "This has caused a great deal of concern among our staff who are worried about receiving threats or worse. Most scientists faced with FOI requests are happy to put stuff into the open and welcome the scrutiny, but in this case they are having to second guess the motives of people who might use this information."
Some of the information requested by Steele is already published, in summaries of Home Office licenses and academic papers. Other details, such as specific laboratory locations, can be refused under FOI exemptions.
One university scientist said: "The most likely motivation here is that they want to catch somebody out. If they can find some bad wording in minutes from a meeting, then they can use that to claim we are up to no good."
28.09.2009 Protesters sue police for £250k over arrests
FIFTEEN animal rights protesters are suing police for up to £250,000 after claiming they were treated illegally during a demonstration outside Oxford University’s honorary degree ceremony.
The claimants, supporters of the Speak campaign group, have filed papers at the High Court claiming “false imprisonment, breach of human rights, malicious prosecution, assault and battery” over the protest in 2006.
On June 21, demonstrators gathered outside Oxford University’s Encaenia Day Ceremony to oppose the building of the animal testing laboratory in South Parks Road.
Fourteen protesters were arrested and charged, but a trial at Bicester Magistrates’ Court in May 2007 cleared them of offences under Section 14 of the Public Order Act. Charges against two others were dropped earlier.
Protester Pauline Brought- on was found guilty of obstructing a police officer, while Fran Cornwell was found guilty of assaulting an officer. Both were given absolute discharges by District Judge Deborah Wright.
During the trial, a tape recording of unguarded comments made by police officers was played to the court in which they used a swear word about the campaigners and said they would “prosecute the s*** out of them”.
In summing up, Ms Wright said: “I find the (Section 14) conditions were imposed unlawfully.
“Whoever was responsible for making the decision that this prosecution should proceed in light of the tape may well have made a serious error of judgement.”
She added: “Although the (taped) conversations were made away from the public, all the officers were on duty.”
Eleven of the 15 people suing police were involved in the case, including Pauline Broughton, the mother of Speak leader Mel Broughton.
Among the claimants in the High Court case are Brett Gordon and Ruth Undy, both of Woodman Court, East Oxford.
The legal papers state Mr Gordon “asked a police officer if he could leave (the demonstration) and meet his wife who had been taken ill earlier in the protest but was told in no uncertain terms that if he did so then he would be arrested.
“He was at the back of the march and was being pushed about aggressively by two police officers and threatened with arrest.”
The group is “claiming damages up to £250,000”.
Mel Broughton was found not guilty by Judge Wright but is not one of the claimants in the writ. He was sentenced to 10 years in February after being convicted of conspiracy to commit arson.
The writ comes just days after Thames Valley Police was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £25,000 costs after call centre worker Keith Tilbury, 51, was shot in the torso by Pc Dave Micklethwaite in Kidlington in May 2007.
Thames Valley Deputy Chief Constable Francis Habgood said the force was aware of the writ, but that it was inappropriate to comment with legal proceedings active.
However, at the time of the collapse of the trial, his predeccessor Alex Marshall said: “There are comments on the tape that I find very regrettable and I find some of the comments unprofessional. I will take careful note of what the judge has said and see if there are any matters which arise from it.”
24.09.2009 Wickham Labs loses bid for new rural site
Controversial plans to build a new animal testing laboratory in a rural village have been unanimously rejected.
Wickham Labs, currently based in Wickham, failed in its latest bid to win permission for a purpose-built facility at Torbay Farm in Lower Upham.
More than 20 animal rights protesters turned up to stage a demonstration outside the civic offices of
Winchester City Council, where the planning committee was holding its meeting yesterday.
Several police officers watched the demonstration, and sat in on the meeting – which all the protesters initially came in to – but there was no trouble.
However, the committee was warned they would not be able to refuse the application on potential security problems.
Planning officer Neil Mackintosh told members: 'The actions of third parties cannot be controlled by the planning committee and are a matter for the police.'
After two-and-a-half hours the 10-member committee voted unanimously against the officer's recommendation to accept the proposals on the grounds that the building would be too large and its design unsympathetic for the rural setting.
The main proposed building was about 50m by 30m and nine-and-a-half metres high.
Echoing many of his colleagues, Councillor Ian Tait said: 'In an industrial estate or a business park this building would be fine – but we aren't, we are in Upham.'
Cllr Therese Evans, who represents Wickham and is also on the committee, acknowledged that security wasn't their concern, but added that Upham, in the Meon Valley, would not be a suitable place because of the attention the labs would attract.
She added: 'There was a demonstration a couple of weeks ago in Wickham where all the roads were closed and there were 130 police.'
Afterwards, veteran animal rights campaigner Helen Nelson said: 'We are absolutely delighted. We have been working so hard towards getting this result, it's such a relief.
'I'm sure they will try again – they're not going to give up. They think they can trample over everyone and get their own way, but this proves they can't.'
Moving the operation to Torbay Farm has been a longheld ambition for owner William Cartmell.
Ray Botterell, representing the labs at the meeting, refused to comment afterwards.
17.09.2009 Sean Kirtley is Free!!
"Sean Kirtley a Sequani activists convicted and sentenced to four and a half years in prison for simply updating a website has been found not guilty at appeal and released from prison.
He served 16 months and is now free to fight on against vivisection.
No justice, no peace, sue the police and we are pretty sure Sean will make sure that West Mercia police and NETCU are funding the campaign against Sequani for many years to come."
Welcome back Sean !!
30.08.2009 English slaughterhouses exposed
National campaigning group Animal Aid has today released footage taken secretly at three randomly chosen abattoirs, which offers an unprecedented close-up of the true inner workings of typical British slaughterhouses that kill pigs, sheep and cattle. The film convincingly disposes of the myth of stress- and pain-free ‘humane slaughter’. The 40 hours of footage shows more than 1,500 animals being stunned and more than 1,000 being killed. Animal Aid anticipates the revelations will provoke a plain-speaking debate involving consumers, politicians, regulators and the industry.
Watch the 10-minute compilation film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECJwRKngYBs
AC Hopkins in Taunton, Somerset: http://vimeo.com/6263255
JV Richards in Truro, Cornwall: http://vimeo.com/6295702
Pickstock in Swandlicote, Derbyshire: http://vimeo.com/6296269
AC Hopkins: http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/NEWS/news_factory//2186//
JV Richards: http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/NEWS/news_factory//2187//
Full story: http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/NEWS/pr_factory//2188//
Read the full report: http://www.animalaid.org.uk/images/pdf/slaughterreport.pdf
info: anti-speciesist Indymedia.org.uk
03.05.2009 Protesters demand end to Oxford animal testing
by Rishi Stocker
Animal rights protest group SPEAK this week handed over a 65,000-signature petition to Oxford University, condemning the opening of the Oxford University Biomedical Sciences Centre and calling for an end to all testing on animals.
A spokesman from SPEAK said the 65,000 signatures had been gathered for the cause of stopping animal testing at Oxford specifically and were ‘proof of the strength of feeling against its operations among the local community and tourists alike.'
The petition was accompanied by a march down Cornmarket.
Another activist told the BBC "We're hoping the University will take notice at the amount of opposition to the experiments they do. We were hoping to either get the building stopped, or get it changed to a cutting edge lab looking at alternatives [to animal testing]. The new lab means we can now concentrate on all animals being tested on at Oxford University, and not just the new building."
The moves were timed to coincide with the end of the World Month for Laboratory Animals, an international campaign with which SPEAK has been heavily involved. The group has organised demonstrations throughout the UK against animal research and testing. Similar groups overseas have also been involved in the month of protest, with one demonstration in California seeing a dramatic confrontation between pro-testing and anti-testing campaigners.
Toby Holder, a spokesman for the pro-animal research group Pro-Test, questioned the value of the petition. "Over the last five years, SPEAK has gathered this enormous amount of signatures, but I'm not sure what it hopes to achieve by handing it to Oxford University."
"Even if it was 65000 signatures, they don't have the right to halt the medical advances for the rest of us."
The submission of the petition comes shortly after a major victory for the anti-testing movement, when the British Union of Anti-Vivisectionists forced Oxford and other universities to publish figures on primate testing, which they had previously refused to do.
The university have released a statement in response to the petition and protest, saying "Animals are only used when no other research method is possible." The spokesman said further: "We recognise that people have a range of views on this issue. The university has always said the building (the Biomedical Sciences Centre) is going to be better for animal welfare and is supporting research into disabilities and deadly diseases."
SPEAK's spokesman dismissed this statement as ‘meaningless', saying the public should focus on the animals that are ‘convulsing and dying at the bottom of their cages in the centre.'
The group's website urges tourists to boycott Oxford, urging students and tourists to "Say no to the city that supports corruption and cruelty. Boycott Oxford and say yes to a science based on compassion that actually works."
The petition has been met by mixed reactions from University students. Robert Smith, a Biochemist in his first year at St Hilda's College, believes that one should focus on the rewards that animal testing can reap in the field of medicine, while still ensuring that animals were kept as comfortable as possible. "When we think of animal testing cruelty and exploitation are often the first things that come to mind. It is sometimes easy to lose sight of what it can actually achieve. As soon as one looks at the number of instances where new cures for human diseases have been found thanks to tests on animals it becomes much harder to condemn. That having been said I feel that measures should be taken to improve as much as possible the conditions in which laboratory animals are kept. Consideration for the animals' welfare is equally important."
A 2005 Cherwell survey showed that 86% of Oxford students are in favour of the university carrying out research on animals, with just 11% opposed. By a similar margin, 84-10, they also supported the new animal research facility. Many students said that the actions of animal rights campaigners had made them more likely to support testing.
25.04.2009 World Day For Animals In Laboratories March in London
14.04.2009 BBC: Scottish Secret Seal Slaughter
A "secret slaughter" of seals is being carried out by fish farmers around the coastline of Scotland, campaigners have claimed.
The Seal Protection Action Group told the BBC's Countryfile programme that as many as 5,000 of the mammals are shot in Scotland every year.
The salmon farming industry disputed the figure, and said shooting seals was necessary to protect stocks. It is currently legal to shoot seals outside their breeding season.
Although seals have become one of Britain's most iconic and best-loved wild animals, their love of fresh salmon has brought them into increasing conflict with a fish farming industry looking to cash in on the growing human appetite for cheap salmon.
More than one million salmon meals eaten in the UK every day, and the industry is one of the biggest employers in the Scottish Highlands.
Common seal numbers have plummeted by a third in Britain over the past seven years, with ecological changes and a shortage of wild fish generally thought to be behind the drop.
But Andy Ottaway, of the Seal Protection Action Group, said he believed the shooting of seals was another major factor behind the animal's decline.
The group was established 30 years ago oppose the mass culling of seals on Orkney.
Mr Ottoway said: "Little did we realise then that the cull would simply be driven underground and continue in secret to this day.
"The seal shooting takes place in very remote locations in sea lochs around Scotland and there are no witnesses, and under the law the industry doesn't even need to release the figures of the numbers they have killed.
"We believe there is a mass slaughter of seals in Scotland - up to 5,000 each year."
Mark Carter, of the Hebridean Trust, said he believed the general decline in seal numbers was particularly noticeable in the areas surrounding fish farms.
"Scientifically we don't know the real reason behind the total decline, but what we do know is that when they are situated near a fish farm then there is a decline and shooting is probably one of the main reasons," he told Countryfile.
"We have got people who have actually witnessed the shooting on fish farms, and we have had several seals washed up with bullet holes in their heads.
"The problem is it is not just adults that find them - my children found one washed up on the beach in front of the house. We did an autopsy and the skull was completely shattered."
It is not just conservationists who are worried. Donald McLean has been taking tourists seal watching in the Sound of Kerrera, off the west coast of Scotland, for 30 years.
The area is traditionally one of the best places in the world to see common seals in their natural habitat.
But Mr McLean said a big increase in the number of local salmon farms - there are currently some 300 in the area - had coincided with a sharp drop in seal sightings.
"When I first started you would come out and see between 60 and 80 seals on average, but now you are down to 10 or 20," he explained.
Mr McLean claimed a large colony of seals which would regularly bask on a rocky outcrop in the Sound disappeared completely when a salmon farm opened up nearby and started shooting them.
But Scott Landsburgh of the Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation, said a single seal attack could kill several thousand farmed salmon.
He said: "The seals are very aggressive - they attack the nets and can bite through them, and they can also actually use their flippers to steal salmon out of the cages.
"It's not just a few - it is thousands of salmon. Indiscriminate attacks by seals can cause trauma throughout the cages and we can lose 2,000 or 3,000 salmon at a time, not only by attacking them but also just be being in the vicinity."
Mr Landsburgh showed the programme photographs of the aftermath of one recent salmon attack where up to 1,000 salmon were killed by a seal getting into their cage, and said there had been reports of up to a third of fish in a cage being killed from the trauma caused by a seal merely sitting nearby watching them.
"We all like seals, we all want to protect the seals, but our paramount responsibility is the welfare of the salmon," he said.
"Let me put this in perspective - we had 30,000 seal attacks on Scottish salmon farms last year. Our industry has reported to us that 489 seals were shot by the salmon industry."
It is not just salmon farmers who are doing the shooting - seals are also regularly killed by nets men and anglers around Scotland's east coast rivers.
Callan Duck, of the Sea Mammal Research Unit at St Andrews University, said he believed it was legitimate in some circumstances to shoot seals around fish farms.
He said: "If a seal is damaging a salmon cage and releasing salmon into the open water for a ready meal, then probably the only way to solve that problem is to remove the seal as once it has learned to access an easy food source it will keep doing it.
"But to randomly shoot animals at adjacent haul out sites or that happen to be passing the fish farm - no, I don't think [it is justified]."
At least one supermarket chain is considering introducing "seal-friendly" salmon products, and several shoppers who were surprised to learn that seals were still regularly being shot told Countryfile they would be willing to pay more for their salmon if they knew its farming had not caused the death of seals.
Some fish farms are already experimenting with non-lethal methods of protecting their stocks by using nets made from stronger fibres or special acoustic devices to scare away hungry seals.
But it could be that the long-term future of seals could rest in the hands of politicians, with marine bills due to be debated in both the Scottish and UK parliaments in the coming months."
31.03.2009 Man jailed over baby seal killings
A 47 year-old fisherman from the north of Scotland has been jailed for 80 days for clubbing 21 baby seals to death with a fence post.
James Stewart from Shetland admitted killing the animals as they lay on a beach on the island of East Linga but he did not explain why he did it.
18.01.2009 HLS is looking for loan and government support
18.01.2009 SHAC terrorist and brave director of HLS in telegraph article
"Mr Cass risked his life by standing up and being counted when countless of other firms publicly declared they would have nothing to do with HLS" - so moving story…
here the article:
and a reply published on Indymedia:
24.12.2008 SHAC Trial
On December 23rd, 4 out of 5 activists on trial at Winchester Crown Court were found guilty of 'Conspiracy to Blackmail' at Winchester Crown Court after a 3 and a half month long show trial. The world's media, prompted by police press officers, were quick to condemn activists by pointing to harassment against the employees of Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) and their customers, shareholders and investors. Actions against HLS, not linked to those convicted, such as hoax bombs, letters alleging paedophilia, and threats were pointed to as evidence of the defendants' extremism. Police spokesmen and the National Extremist Coordination Unit (NETCU), the branch of the police set up to deal with the AR movement and other expressions of the public's dissent, hailed the convictions as a victory.
What was not examined in the media was the worrying development of the repressive use of the law which lead to the conviction of the four defendants.
Corporate Watch has followed the progress of the trial at Winchester since the beginning. The reason we were concerned about the trial is that we see it as part of a larger attack on the animal rights movement motivated by the state's desire to protect private corporations against dissent. Since the animal rights movement began to effectively challenge the profits of those involved in vivisection and the pharmaceutical industry the state has repeatedly responded with new repressive measures. In May this year Sean Kirtley, an activist involved with Stop Sequani Animal Torture (SSAT), was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for updating a website with news about a legal, nonviolent campaign to close down Sequani laboratories in Ledbury. Kirtley was convicted of 'Conspiracy to interfere with the contractual relations of an animal research facility under section 145 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act' (SOCPA 145) . His only crime was to protest lawfully against the lab and to update a website.
NETCU, however, was not satisfied with seeing animal rights activists banged up for four and a half years and chose to charge campaigners associated with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) with 'conspiracy to blackmail', an offence carrying up to 14 years in prison. In May 2007, police arrested 32 people in raids dubbed 'Operation Achilles'. Since then, 15 people have been charged with 'conspiracy' and are being tried in two separate trials, of which this was the first.
The charges relate to six years of concerted campaigning against HLS, the largest contract testing laboratory in Europe. The defendants included people who had been involved in SHAC from the outset. However, two of the defendants, Gerrah Selby and Dan Wadham, had been in their early teens at the beginning of the period concerned and had only been involved for a short time. Wadham was only 17 when his part of the alleged conspiracy allegedly occurred.
SHAC, an international campaign group calling for the closure of HLS, has been painted by the police and the press as a 'criminal organisation' duping members of the public concerned with animal abuse into donating their money to further 'a campaign of blackmail'. SHAC's activities, however, have been overwhelmingly lawful: the campaign publishes information about animal abuse inside HLS labs, reports campaigning activities and issues action alerts calling on supporters to write polite letters to companies working with HLS and ask them to desist. If those companies continue to do business with HLS, protests would usually follow. All material on the SHAC website is checked by a barrister and police are given prior notice of their demonstrations.
Customers, suppliers and shareholders in HLS have also been the subject of some direct action. Slogans have been daubed at company premises and employees homes; cars have been painstrippered; hoax bombs have been sent and employees have been accused of being paedophiles. However, these actions are not directly linked to the SHAC campaign and have only tenuous links to the defendants, whose faces were spashed across many tabloid front pages after their convictions at Winchester.
During the summer, three defendants, committed campaigners against HLS, plead guilty to charges of 'conspiracy to blackmail'. During the trial, evidence recovered from the campaign PCs and activists' personal computers was presented. Police had found many documents believed to have been permanently deleted or shredded by their authors. This included a spreadsheet detailing names and addresses of people working for companies linked to HLS, details of direct actions carried out against them and a document containing a private chat between activists apparently talking about direct action. This evidence may suggest that some activists had decided to take direct action against companies linked to HLS, but the evidence linking the defendants found guilty on 23rd December to these documents was circumstantial and, in some cases, non-existent. Even if some activists linked to SHAC did decide to take direct action, this does not make everybody associated with the campaign guilty by association. The prosecution case was that that the entire SHAC campaign was aimed at closing down HLS, which is true, and that SHAC campaigners attempted to persuade companies not to work with HLS, which is also true. The prosecution argument, however, went on to imply that, when companies did not agree to cease trading with HLS, they were the subject of direct action. Often direct action did occur but this was not under the banner of SHAC. Moreover, SHAC did not publish any information about companies that was not already in the public domain. But because some activists, sometimes under the banner of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), did take direct action, the prosecution argued that the SHAC campaign was facilitating direct action and giving it its tacit appoval. The police went one step further and said SHAC and the ALF were one and the same thing!
Much of the evidence in the three-month trial was in relation to lawful demonstrations against companies linked to HLS. This was particularly important in the instances of defendants who could not be linked to the uncovered computer evidence. In several cases, the only evidence was what they had said at demonstrations. Comments made by defendants during protests in earshot of the police were portrayed as linking them to the 'conspiracy'. Comments, such as "we know where you live", were taken as proof that defendants were party to the conspiracy. In any other context, such spur-of-the-moment comments would have, at most, lead to minor charges in the Magistrate's Court. Equally important was the fact that some of those convicted were linked personally to the defendants who pleaded guilty. Heather Nicholson and Gerrah Selby had both shared houses with them. This was obviously a factor in finding them guilty by association.
So what does this mean for free speech and anti-corporate dissent in the UK? By the same logic, an anti-war campaign that publishes information on the whereabouts of a military base or arms factory and calls for its closure could be put in the frame for the same crime if that base was then the subject of an arson attack. All it would take would be for the police to imply that the people running the public campaign are linked to those involved in direct action. Consequently, campaigners might feel compelled to publicly distance themselves from acts of direct action lest they find that, unbeknown to them, those responsible for the covert actions are involved in public action too and the whole movement is charged with 'conspiracy'. In fact, the use of such charges is a classic police tactic aimed at spreading paranoia and convicting as many activists as possible for acts carried out by only a few. The aim is also to minimise public support for illegal actions by harrassing and criminalising those who speak up in solidarity.
NETCU have already intimated, for example in the recent Mark Townsend article on 'eco-terrorists', that environmental or anti-gm protesters might be their next target.
The convicted activists are now long periods in jail, they will be sentenced on January 19th. Heather Nicholson, who was remanded after her arrest in May 2007, has already spent over 19 months in jail, longer than some convicted of serious assaults or sex crimes would spend in prison. In May this year, Sean Kirtley, who was imprisoned for his role in another animal rights campaign, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison on the same day that men who beat a man until he was blind received two years. Since 'Operation Achilles', the police have been patting themselves on the back for putting the animal rights movement into 'disarray'. A NETCU source told the Observer in November 2008 that the animal rights movement's 'ringleaders' had 'either been prosecuted or were awaiting prosecution.' One may suspect that comments like these are more to do with maintaining NETCU's funding than reality (see this Corporate Watch commentary for more details).
In fact the attack on animal rights campaigners does not seem to have limited their capacity to take action. Regular demonstrations are still taking place against companies linked to HLS, with one planned for 29th December.The ALF, which does not seem to be in need of 'leaders', has recently freed 70 turkeys from a UK farm. If anything, the global animal rights movement seems to be growing steadily.
The decision to try these campaigners for 'conspiracy to blackmail' was evidently a political one. Huge amounts of police resources have been poured into this prosecution, and others like it, at the behest of the Labour government. This is due to the effectiveness of the animal rights movement in confronting and challenging the power of corporations involved in animal abuse. The demonisation of animal rights campaigners in the media, facilitated by NETCU press releases, only makes it easier for the state to repress them without public outcry. The conviction of the defendants at Winchester is yet another nail in the coffin of the public's right to voice their anger and dissent against corporate crime.
For more info see Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty - www.shac.net
NETCU Watch - http://netcu.wordpress.com/
20.11.2008 Deer - a new public enemy in UK
Culls of half a million deer are needed to protect Britain's countryside from being damaged by increasingly large herds of the animals.
16.11.2008 Oxford Lab Opens
Oxford University Laboratory officially started on 11th November 2008
"Only Rats currently but primates will follow." Read here:
10.09.2008 Animal Aid new report exposes drug industry
"National campaign group Animal Aid today (September 3) calls on government to crack down on drug industry practices that put profits before all else. In a major new report, entitled Making a Killing: How drug company greed harms people and animals, the group exposes a catalogue of unethical practices – beginning with misleading animal tests – that are designed to drive up drug sales, which already cost the NHS £11 billion per year. The public’s health also suffers: in 2006, 1 million people were hospitalised in Britain due to adverse drug reactions."
Read the article and the report
06.09.08 Carnival Against Vivisection
"On Saturday 6th September two hundred activists made it to Ledbury, Herefordshire, for the Carnival Against Vivisection in solidarity with political prisoner Sean Kirtley. The day of action was called by various groups in resistance to the imprisoning of peaceful campaigners under SOCPA legislation, and as a stand for the animals suffering inside vivisection laboratories.
Protesters met on the grass verge, where the police held them allowing a maximum of 15 at a time to demonstrate outside Sequani labs. Shortly after campaigners made a spontaneous break for the labs, with police responding by blocking the bridge to push back the crowd, creating minor scuffles. Multiple attempts were also made to access the labs using various pre-planned routes, meeting police each time, some of which had dogs. Protesters then regrouped at the grass verge to march the original route around town."
26.04.08 World Day For Laboratory Animals in Horsham
400 campaigners from across the UK gathered at Horsham Park for a National march and demo at Novartis UK HQ, where experiments on primates, guinea-pigs and other animals are tortured for profit.
Amanda Richards from SPEAK kicked off the speeches, reminding everyone of why we were in Horsham and talked about the campaign against HLS since the Channel 4 documentary ‘It’s a dogs life’ in 1997. Which showed HLS workers punching beagle puppies in the face and of all the many exposes since than.
Next up was Lynn Sawyer, a mid wife, who during a protest against HLS in 2000 was shook off a 20 foot tripod by an off duty policeman. Lynn broke her leg in 4 places and had to have plastic surgery to her face. The policeman lighty due to intimidation of witnesses! But Lynn carried on campaigning against HLS. This shows you the determination of campaigners to close HLS down. She talked about HLS and the misuse of the Harassment Act, which was meant to protect people from Stalkers. But instead has been used by HLS and other animal testing companies to stifle legal protest and free speech.
Debbie Vincent then spoke about Novartis and reinforced the message that we must keep fighting for the animals inside HLS, and inside Novartis. She talked about the global movement against HLS all over the world, with over 700 protests in 30 countries last year!
The march around Horsham began and no one in Horsham town centre was left unaware of our presence of why we where there! To inform them about the primate research going on in their town, right on their door step!
There was overwhelming support from the local people of Horsham and many leaflets were given out during the march, in fact as the march weaved its way through the town several local residents joined the march up to Novartis and pledged their support! The noise and the visual presence was awesome, with banners as far as the eye could see, trailing all the way back through the town. Many locals were surprised to hear that primate research happened in their town, a fact that Novartis have tried to hide. In fact, Novartis tried to get the march stopped in the High Court!
- e-mail: ten.cahs|ofni#ten.cahs|ofni
- Homepage: http://shac.net
19/04/08 SPEAK National Demo in Oxford
We have to make a noise. Screaming aloud "Close The Oxford Animal Lab" and making people aware that the prestigious university made a hell for the animals. We have to boycott the City of Oxford which fame rests on the Oxford University, which supports the cruelty and refuses any prosecutions of Uni "heroes" (Researchers at Oxford have been investigated for blatant acts of animal cruelty, yet no one has ever been prosecuted).
Today we did it - we made a noise demanding to stop animal experiments, informing Oxford citizens and tourists that thousands of sentient beings suffer and die inside Oxford University Laboratories in the name of "medical progress", many animal experiments are done just to satisfy "scientific" curiosity and attract grant money.
A lot of supporters attended SPEAK Demo, and what more important a lot of people went out on the streets to watch the Demo. I saw people clapping their hands, encouraging us, people taking SPEAK leaflets, looking at the Demo with concern. Unfortunately I saw people walking by, turning heads to other side and people laughing at us or looking at us like at some idiots.
The Demo under the tender care of Police.
We weren't allowed to come too close…
Oxford University graduate Matthew Simpson looking at the crowd said "Oxford is beautiful city, but this is the most beautiful view I've ever seen here".
27/02/08 The Badger Trust: no chance of a badger cull
The Badger Trust has welcomed a report by the Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs Select Committee which concludes that the current regime of TB testing for
cattle 'is not working effectively'.
Calling for a 'multi-faceted approach', the Committee recommends:
- more frequent cattle testing, with more frequent and targeted combined use of the
tuberculin skin test and the gamma interferon test;
- the evaluation of post-movement cattle testing;
- greater communication with farmers on the benefits of biosecurity measures;
- the deployment of badger and cattle vaccines when they become available in the
- and continued work on the epidemiology of the disease.
Although the Committee says that 'under certain well-defined circumstances it is
possible that [badger] culling could make a contribution towards the reduction in
incidence of cattle TB in hot spot areas', the Badger Trust says that the demanding
conditions that would have to be met would mean that culling is effectively off the
Trevor Lawson for the Badger Trust commented: "The current TB testing regime is
full of loopholes and weaknesses, with the result that cattle are spreading bovine TB
throughout the national herd every day. For example, the skin test that is used for
most cattle testing is missing around one third of the infected animals, leaving the
disease to fester in herds and spread to others. We are delighted that the Select
Committee has called on the Government to tighten up that testing regime.
"In Northern Ireland, a tighter focus on cattle testing has virtually halved the
incidence of the disease in just three years. The same is achievable here,
provided the Government acts quickly and invests properly.
"There can now be simply no valid chance of a badger cull being implemented. The
dwindling number of livestock farmers do not control enough land and lack the
financial resources, time and coordination required to implement a cull over large
areas for long periods of time. Badger culling must now be off the agenda.
"Moreover, the massive badger extermination policy in the Republic of Ireland,
initiated in 2002, has failed to control the disease. In 2007, the number of TB
reactors was virtually the same as in 2002, despite five years of snaring and
shooting across 30 per cent of Ireland's land area where cattle are most
concentrated. The proof is there: culling is a waste of time."
22/02/08 Ireland: Bovine TB climbs by 13% despite badger massacre
Bovine TB has increased by 13% in just one year in the Republic of Ireland, despite the most sustained programme of badger extermination ever undertaken in Western Europe, the Badger Trust revealed today. Yet in Northern Ireland, where no badgers are being killed, the disease continues to decline.
Britain's National Farmers Union is expected to demand badger
culling in England and Wales as it begins its annual conference at the luxury Hilton Metropole hotel in London.
But the Badger Trust has learned that Irish agriculture minister Mary Coughlan has told the Irish Farmers Association that the increase is "significant" and "unexplained". Even though the increase in outbreaks will be costing Irish tax payers dear, the minister has not published the information or issued a press statement.
Trevor Lawson, for the Badger Trust, commented: "This increase in TB in Ireland cannot be blamed on badgers. The Irish Government is setting 6,000 snares for badgers every night, but barely catching 6,000 badgers a year because they are now so scarce.
By strangling badgers, the Irish Government was supposed to be eradicating bovine TB, yet the disease has been static for
years and is now on the rise. Badgers are a scapegoat for reckless farming practices which encourage the spread of TB between herds."
The Badger Trust points out that in Northern Ireland herd incidence of TB fell from 6.23% in 2006 to 5.23% in 2007. This is the fifth consecutive annual decrease, with the proportion of affected herds having been virtually halved since 2002.
No badgers are culled in Northern Ireland. Instead, the Department for Agriculture Northern Ireland has invested in a very capable IT system for tracking cattle movements. And when it clamped down on TB testing breaches in November 2004, the number of overdue tests fell by 90%, from 3,500 overdue tests a month to just 350.
In Northern Ireland, vets acknowledge that even the legitimate movement of cattle between the scattered fields of farm holdings provides "enormous potential for farm to farm spread" and prevents the eradication of bovine TB. Other mitigating factors are cited as the "high rate of cattle movements and limitations associated with the [TB] test and its execution".
Trevor Lawson added: "Mary Coughlan will have a hard time explaining the rise in bovine TB now that she has succeeded in
virtually exterminating badgers across their most important habitats in the Republic of Ireland. The comparison between
polices in Northern Ireland and the Republic underlines that the bovine TB problem is a cattle problem. Killing badgers is
a grotesque and senseless exercise and it is imperative that Defra Secretary of State Hilary Benn repels the culling demands of the NFU this week."
There's still time to write to your MP about this;