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adrian_radford“Animal Terrorist Group Foiled by Informant Dressed as a Beagle,” declared a headline in The Sunday Times on March 1. The article by Jack Grimston details how Adrian Radford, an intelligence services instructor and former member of the British military, spent three years inside the Animal Liberation Front. Radford, who used the name Ian Farmer, was widely known for the beagle costume he wore at demonstrations; the costume had been supplied by the police. According to Grimston, Radford allegedly participated in a number of raids and supplied his handlers with information that Grimston implies led to the arrest of activists with the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) campaign.


In January 2009, seven members of SHAC ― Daniel Amos, Gregg Avery, Natasha Avery, Gavin Medd-Hall, Heather Nicholson, Gerrah Selby and Daniel Wadham were sentenced to prison for their six-year campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences after having been found guilty of conspiracy to blackmail.


Grimston writes: “In January 2007, the police finally pulled Radford out to allow them to round up the group’s leadership without arousing suspicion. They put him under surveillance so that it appeared to the ALF that he was compromised and being panicked into leaving.”


Activists posting comments on the UK’s Indymedia site, however, have a different view. They have pointed out a variety of errors in Grimston’s reporting, such as stating that ALF has leadership.


“[Radford] knows full well that SHAC is NOT the ALF and that Greg, Natasha, Heather and Mel [Broughton] are NOT ALF leaders, the ALF is an idea, it has no leaders, ” writes UK activist Lynn Sawyer.


A campaigner using the name Ian Skivens (actually a police officer well known among UK activists) adds: “It’s quite funny really, that this guy achieved nothing, except according to the article, supplying SHAC with a nice beagle costume. Thanks NETCU [National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit] — keep the gifts coming!”

shac_20091Seven members of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) were sentenced today in the UK for their six-year campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS).


Heather Nicholson was sentenced to 11 years in prison, while Greg and Natasha Avery received nine-year sentences. Daniel Amos received a four-year sentence, Gavin Medd-Hall was sentenced to eight years and Gerrah Selby and Daniel Wadham got four and five years respectively.


The seven were found guilty of conspiracy to blackmail by Winchester Crown Court, in southern England, last month. Trevor Holmes, another SHAC activist, had been cleared in the case.


Greg and Heather started SHAC in 1999 after undercover video footage taken by PETA inside an HLS lab was aired on British television. The footage showed staff shaking, punching, shouting and laughing at beagles. The HLS employees were dismissed and prosecuted, and HLS’s license to perform animal experiments was revoked for six months.


HLS, now Europe’s largest commercial animal-testing lab, conducts tests on about 75,000 animals every year, including beagles, rats, rabbits, pigs and primates (marmosets, macaques, and wild-caught baboons). These animals are killed in a variety of experiments for food additives, cosmetics, artificial sweeteners, pesticides, paints, dyes and other household products. HLS also uses animals in drug research.


SHAC campaigns against customers who provide HLS with an income and profits, as well as suppliers who provide HLS with vital tools to carry out research. They also target financial links, such as shareholders, market makers and banking facilities. SHAC has called for a mass boycott of HLS and is asking all companies doing business with Huntingdon to denounce on animal cruelty.


Previous SHAC campaigns closed down a dog breeder who supplied beagles for vivisection, a cat farm that sold kittens as young as 10 days old to laboratories worldwide, a farm that sold primates for experiments and a breeder who supplied rabbits to the vivisection industry.


“I hope today’s sentences send a strong message that, in a democratic society, campaigning needs to remain lawful, and that those who cross the line into extremist activity will be brought to justice,” said Detective Chief Inspector Andy Robbins, who led the investigation into SHAC.


In 2006, six SHAC activists were convicted and sent to jail in the U.S. on “animal enterprise terrorism” charges, which amounted to running a Web site. The site listed the home and work addresses for those doing business with HLS.


A movie about SHAC is currently in production.

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.

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