On December 23rd, 4 out of 5 activists on trial at Winchester Crown Court were found guilty of 'conspiracy to blackmail' Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) after a 3 and a half month long trial. The world's media, prompted by police press officers, were quick to condemn Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), providing examples of harassment against the employees of HLS, their customers, suppliers and investors.
Direct action against the company, not linked to those convicted, such as arson attacks, hoax bombs, letters alleging paedophilia, and threats were pointed to as evidence of the defendants' extremism. Police spokesmen and the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU), the branch of the police set up to dismantle the animal rights 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.
The trial is the second large animal rights conspiracy trial this year following the imprisonment of Sean Kirtley, an activist involved with Stop Sequani Animal Torture (SSAT). Sean 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. Despite the Sequani and SHAC investigations leading to convictions, both campaigns against the vivisection labs are continuing undeterred.
Newswire: Strategic Importance of HLS in the broader anticapitalist fight | SHAC Do Christmas & Solidarity Demos | Corporate Watch on SHAC Trial - State Repression of Anti-Corporate Dissent | Campaigning against cruelty is now punishable by up to 14 years in prison! | SHAC campaign against HLS continues despite the convictions says the Guardian | SHAC v HLS
Previous featuers: Solidarity For Political Prisoner Sean Kirtley | Largest HLS Investor Dumps All Shares | SHAC Prepares For National March & Rally | Victory for animal rights campaigners | Activist Imprisoned for Shouting | Fisher Scientific Embarrassed Over Links with HLS | SHAC World Day for Lab Animals | Asahi Glass Protesters Harassed by Police | "March Against the Murderers"
SHAC vs HLS
Huntingdon Life Sciences are in the business of poisoning healthy animals to death. They are a contract testing operation that tests products for others. They have three sites two in the UK and one in the US. Five hundred animals are put to death every day by HLS, killing tens of thousands of horses, cats, dogs, primates, rabbits, hamsters, rats, mice and fish amongst others each year. Every one is an individual with a heart beat.
HLS hit the headlines in 1997 when they were exposed by an undercover worker with a hidden camera. This expose was screened on national TV and showed workers screaming abuse at terrified beagle dogs. One is filmed punching a puppy in the face in anger! The outcry that followed rocked the foundations of this once profitable company as the public made their objections felt. HLS shares were devastated and never recovered. Today HLS are unable to trade in more than 1% of their shares. This is a very, very sick company.
Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) is a public pressure campaign that grew out of the prime time exposure of HLS into a supremely efficient and imaginative global initiative. Using a variety of tactics intended to draw public attention and hamper operations such as mass protests, home demonstrations, leaflet drops, lock-ons, blockades and email floods SHAC has brought HLS to its knees. The informed public finds the business of HLS repulsive and will not allow them to regain their feet.
HLS have been exposed to the public time and time again. On each occasion a very familiar story comes out. The only logical conclusion is that HLS is rotten to the core. It is in the public domain that HLS workers have falsifying test results, include known sex offenders, have carried out tests while drunk, have been found guilty of animal cruelty and of using drugs. From 1995 to 2000 HLS broke the Good Laboratory Guidelines no less than 520 times in just one experiment! In 2004 The Observer exposed HLS for gassing beagle dogs to test a CFC chemical which was banned 15 years earlier. HLS is a very leaky secret.
Government legislation and public money has come thick and fast to ensure this distasteful scientifically unproven commercial concern continues unhindered by the progress of public opinion. High Court injunctions restrict public protest to a few hours a week at the gates of HLS. The company no longer owns its property but it reduced to leasing it back from those it sold out to. HLS has the Bank of England to sign its cheques because none of the High Street banks will provide banking services. The UK tax payer is also funding HLS’ insurance and for the police to spend vast resources on harassing citizens who speak out against this abhorrent business.
It should be worthy of note that an estimated 10,000 people die prematurely in the UK each year due to being given drugs that have been tested on animals by HLS and others and passed as safe. (1) Ten thousand human fatalities! In the US the number is estimated to be in excess of 100,000 with a further 2.2 million hospitalisations due to adverse drug reactions. (2)* *Animal tested drugs are the fourth biggest cause of death in the West after heart disease cancer and stroke. This is a scandal.
Vioxx alone has caused in excess of 100,000 deaths worldwide! SHAC activists have been persecuted relentlessly by the agents of government yet have hurt no one. SHAC activists are at work in many countries today and pledge to continue in their clearly defined, well advanced agenda to close down HLS.
Gregg Avery, Natasha Avery, Dan Amos, Heather Nicholson, Gerrah Selby, Gavin Medd- Hall and Dan Wadham and all others accused in this witch hunt are guilty of the highest level of compassion. They have given their all to save the lives of others and expose the inbuilt failings of animal experimentation. They are human beings of the future. Prison and the threat of prison will not stop decent people from doing what is right.
The use of further draconian laws to harass, detain and imprison animal advocates as threatened by Elizabeth Windsor in her latest annual speech will not right the many wrongs inside HLS and the wider drugs industry, nor will it remove the desire in the hearts of good men and women young and old to rid society of this cancer that consumes so many lives.
These law makers and those who remain silent during this onslaught against human freedom and animal rights will come to learn that there is no legislation can hold back human evolution. Animal testing is an ancient theory that has never been tested scientifically. Animal are dying. People are dying. Huntingdon Life Sciences is dying. The Animal Liberation Movement is alive and thriving.
Further information is available at www.shac.net