Activists Selby, Wadham, Medd-Hall and Nicholson

Activists Selby, Wadham, Medd-Hall and Nicholson

Four members of the Cambridge-based (UK) group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) were convicted Tuesday of blackmail for running a campaign against companies and individuals with links to Huntingdon Life Sciences.


Gerrah Selby, 20, Daniel Wadham, 21, Gavin Medd-Hall, 45, and Heather Nicholson, 41, were convicted over the six-year campaign, which prosecutors say was designed to shut down the animal research laboratory based in Cambridge.


Four other activists had also been involved: Gregg Avery, 45, his wife, Natasha Avery, and Daniel Amos, 22, had earlier pleaded guilty to the same charge. Trevor Holmes, 51, was acquitted.


The activists were accused of targeting employees of Huntingdon Life Sciences, Europe’s largest contract medical testing center, with threats of violence, vandalism of homes and businesses, letter bombs and firebombs between 2001 and 2007. A jury at the Winchester Crown Court took more than 33 hours to convict the four, who had pleaded not guilty.


“The sole aim of SHAC was to close down the business of Huntingdon Life Sciences in Cambridgeshire because they use animals in the testing of pharmaceutical products,” said Alastair Nisbet, a senior prosecutor.  


Steven Bird, a lawyer for the defendants, said they were very disappointed at the outcome. “We will consider any grounds for appeal in the next couple of weeks and advise our clients accordingly,” he said.


The four will be sentenced on January 19. They face up to 14 years in prison.


Update: Sentences handed down.