Serious Organized Crime: UK Anti-Vivisection Activists Sent to Jail
SERIOUS ORGANISED CRIME
UK PLC CONSPIRES TO PROTECT VIVISECTION LAB AS MORE ACTIVISTS ARE SENT TO JAIL
SchNEWS - Friday 29th October 2010 | Issue 745
The six defendants in the second SHAC trial were hammered with vicious sentences this week (see SchNEWS 738). The harshest was the six years handed down to 53-year-old Sarah Whitehead. Sentences for the other defendants Tom Harris, Nicole Vosper, Jason Mullan, Nicola Tapping and Alfie Fitzpatrick ranged from a two year suspended sentence for the youngest, Alfie, to three and a half years for Nicole Vosper. All the defendants also copped lengthy [Anti-Social Behavior Orders], which will prevent them from any further participation in animal rights activism.
All six were charged with ‘conspiracy to interfere with the contractual relations of an animal research organisation’ under the SOCPA legislation, a law brought in by New Labour to specifically target the animal rights movement. They were arrested in a massive series of raids in 2007.
A lot of shit has been talked about this trial and the defendants in the mainstream media. Most of the press has been happy to reprint the NETCU line that the defendants were personally involved in planting bombs and conducting violence against individuals. The Mail has claimed that SHAC and the [Animal Liberation Front] are one and the same thing. The BBC carried an article entitled ‘Under Siege’ that claimed that the six individuals sentenced were personally responsible for vandalism at his home over a period of seven years.
In fact the nature of the conspiracy charge means that the prosecution did not have to prove anything, except that the defendants knew one another and were part of the SHAC campaign against HLS - and that at least part of this campaign involved illegal activity. These ‘catch-all’ conspiracy cases are being used to attack a militant and successful movement against UK corporate interests. The last SHAC trial (see SchNEWS 663) saw activists receive up to 11 year sentences on similar conspiracy charges.
NETCU were of course gloating about the verdict, saying, “We are very satisfied with the outcome today. In 2004 a major police investigation was launched into the criminal activities linked to SHAC. Specialist support was also provided by the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Unit” then adding laughably, “The police service remains committed to facilitating the peaceful protest of the majority”.
Of course in real life the police have never neglected their role as defenders of power against truth. It is unlikely that the ‘major police investigation’ ended after the 2007 raids. Long-term police infiltrator PC Mark Kennedy (AKA Stone - see graphic) attended animal rights events as recently as September 2010.
Has this stopped SHAC? Hardly. During the sentencing, which took three days, demonstrations took place simultaneously, in London, at the gates of the two HLS sites as well as their beagle suppliers at Harlan Huntingdon and their rabbit breeders at Highgate Lincolnshire. There was even a brief foray into Cambridgeshire Police HQ looking for the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordinating Unit’s (NETCU) office.
* See www.shac.net