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SENTENCING OF ANIMAL RIGHTS CAMPAIGNERS TODAY
Monday, 25th October
A three day hearing has today concluded at Winchester Crown Court where six animal rights activists have been sentenced to a total of nearly 18 years by Judge Cutler for their involvement in the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) campaign.
Sarah Whitehead (sentenced to 6 Years), Nicole Vosper (sentenced to 3.5 Years) and Tom Harris (sentenced to 4 Years) had previously entered guilty pleas to a conspiracy to blackmail Huntingdon Life Sciences.
Jason Mullen (sentenced to 3 Years), Alfie Fitzpatrick (sentenced to 1 year, suspended for two years) and Nicola Tapping (sentenced to 15 months) had entered not guilty pleas to blackmail and were due to stand trial for conspiracy to blackmail, but after the CPS halted proceedings against them they have entered guilty pleas to a conspiracy to interfere with a contractual relationship of an animal research organisation, namely Huntingdon Life Sciences (S.145 SOCPA 2005).
These convictions follow the first wave of prosecutions in 2008 when seven animal rights activists including the founders of SHAC received a total of 50 years sentences of between four and eleven years for their role in the conspiracy to blackmail companies linked to HLS.
Despite the sentences received, the SHAC campaign still maintains that Huntingdon Life Sciences is a criminal organisation with a track record in animal cruelty and financial irregularity which must be closed down. Protests continue with noisy and angry demonstrations held outside both UK laboratories of HLS, Alconbury and Occold, over the sentencing dates. Also, mobile demonstrations were also held in the City of London against Huntingdon's last financing option, the Fortress Investment Group and their funders. Both attracted week day protestors despite restrictions imposed through the High Court injunction at both HLS sites.
SHAC does not recognise HLS as a lawful company, and so these convictions are a sheer travesty. HLS have a proven track record of animal cruelty and have a criminal history [viii]. Channel 4 filmed HLS workers punching puppies in the face, and falsifying test data [ix]; and workers have been caught performing experiments on animals whilst intoxicated with drugs and alcohol [x].
Throughout history, those campaigning for social change have received punishments and imprisonment from the legal system when their movements have become effective and gained momentum. Emmeline Pankhurst was continually jailed for her determined role in gaining the right for women to vote; she was once a criminal and is now deemed a saviour. Nelson Mandella, Dame Millicent Forcett GBE, the list continues and this should never be forgotten. The anti-vivisection movement, gaining justice for the animals tormented by researchers and the patients suffering from drug reactions as a result [xi], has little difference and uses exactly the same tactics of direct action, shaming those involved in the abuse and continued protest.
HLS are Europe’s largest and most exposed animal research laboratory who kill 500 animals every day in cruel unnecessary tests. Recent experiments at HLS include ingredients for cleaning products [i], mushroom extract [ii] and fermented vegetables [iii]. They were famously exposed in 1997 when Channel 4 filmed HLS workers punching beagle puppies in the face, but since then they have been exposed a further seven times for animal cruelty [iv], showing workers dealing with animals whilst drunk, cutting open a monkey whilst still alive, hitting and abusing dogs, falsifying test data, and many more breaches of the most basic animal welfare laws [v].
HLS were responsible for testing the ADHA drug Ritalin, which has gone on to kill hundreds of children after animal tests proved it safe for human consumption [vi].
One of Huntingdon’s main primate suppliers, Primate Products Inc, were exposed this August when shocking photos of animal cruelty were leaked to the public [vii]. These disturbing photos can be viewed on our website.
SHAC will continue to operate on a global scale against this global company with supporters located across Europe and the US with protests against HLS’ customers and collaboraators taking place on every inhabited continent on the planet. Since the massive police raids on 1st May 2007 which lead to these prosecutions and despite imprisoning a number of SHAC campaigners, the number of protests against HLS targets are still continuing.
We will not rest until our job is done and this discredited, criminally cruel company is closed for good and resigned to the history books.
i - Development of an occupational exposure limit for n-propylbromide using benchmark dose
methods, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, August 2004: