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Netcu Watch // Thoughts on media hysteria post SHAC trial.

Netcu Watch | 31.12.2008 13:11 | SHAC | Animal Liberation | Repression

I’m fed up with the histrionics, the exaggerations and the lies about SHAC and so this is my contribution to counter them.

(Put the kettle on - this is quite a read)

I write as someone who was involved with SHAC in the beginning in 1999 until now (although I only attend very few demonstrations). I have been heavily involved in the campaign in the past and have been convicted of quite a few offences and feel that I am fairly well placed to challenge some of the regurgitated nonsense spewed out by the press which might assist other activists as well as share my personal experiences of the police, the legal system and HLS.

I would never have believed that back in 1999 when Hillgrove closed that our civil liberties would become so eroded. Back then, August 1999, articles were published in the national press congratulating the campaign as the RSPCA moved in and re-homed every single cat. Tactics now , of course, are VERY different and much more restrained as new laws made demonstrations outside a “home” practically illegal, in fact demonstrating against vivisection at all is a gamble as to its legality with the 4 ½ year prison sentence dealt out to Sean Kirtley under SOCPA who had done absolutely nothing which broke the law. Anti vivisection demonstrations in the last 2 or 3 years have not included home demonstrations, or running into offices, or blockades even though all of these are non violent forms of protest used by many other campaigners over decades, for example the Suffragettes would march en masse to the homes of their detractors oft bearing flaming torches (in fact some of them burnt down the Home Secretary’s new house and indeed the Oxford boat house in fact there is a picture of JRR Tolkien looking at the scorched remains). Not once was any individual harmed by SHAC, for the record the incident in which the CEO of HLS was wounded was actually publicly condemned by SHAC .Why then the state was so keen to crush SHAC with unprecedented cooperation between police forces was not because SHAC is a “terrorist” organisation but because SHAC have forced not just HLS but the entire foul industry to the very brink of survival in the UK.

So what is in the papers and on telly? A round up shows the following accusations:

A 7 year campaign of terror!

A car with “evil scum” written on it.

Some individuals were branded paedophiles.

Gladys Hammond case gets brought up yet again

“Vicious” phone calls

Nasty things being sent in the post for example used condoms and sanitary towels.

Threats to infect with HIV

Walking into offices wearing masks, talking to workers etc.


Talking about how nasty vivisectors are in the “privacy” of their own homes as well as feelings of hatred and retribution .

Not handing in petitions to the government.

That Greg is the leader of the ALF

And in the Sunday Times the best of the lot (28/12/2008) “trying to kill” people!!!!

That seems to be about it and from another perspective not one “victim” was actually harmed by any animal rights activist let alone the defendants (except the HLS CEO). So let us look at each accusation in turn.

A 7 year campaign of terror!

Three of the convicted defendants had nothing to do with the campaign in the early years, they were still at school and had never heard of SHAC or HLS, only The Times bothered to point this out. The radio and TV news actually stated that the defendants themselves were directly responsible for everything done against HLS. The grave of Gladys was shown on national TV as though the defendants were in some way responsible even though nearly half of them were not involved then. A message to us all no doubt which should be worded, “If you become part of an effective campaign you are not only responsible for the actions of persons unknown now but for the actions of those who broke the law before you even heard of said campaign, we can’t catch those responsible so you can pay with your liberty instead”.

Personally I think that if I pour paint stripper on someone’s car (not that I would you understand, this is hypothetical) that I should be the person who is arrested and taken to court not the person who made the leaflet through which I learnt something that incensed me so much I broke the law. Even less should someone who joins a campaign 3 years later be made to pay for my actions which took place when they were a child.

SHAC has always been and remains a legal campaign (even the Times says so) which highlights the atrocities carried out at HLS. Years ago The News of the World had a campaign against paedophiles and printed addresses and the inevitable happened, Should the editor be prosecuted? Should The leaders of the Countryside Alliance face 14 years each in prison because some pro hunt activists threatened to poison the water supply and some did go slow protests on the M25? Should Plane Stupid be rounded up and incarcerated for the entirety of their youth because they effectively said, “continue cheap haul flights and we
will disrupt them”?

A car with “evil scum” written on it.

Not nice for the owner and illegal but hardly crime of the century. Thousands of people face this sort of thing every day and in fact get their cars burnt out on rough estates. Funny enough the police are not too interested unless the “victim” is involved in vivisection. I am not aware that ANY of the defendants are in any way responsible for this act.

Some individuals were branded paedophiles

Vivisection is all about poisoning, burning, mutilating and other forms of torturing of innocent victims. I don’t like calling animal abusers paedophiles, most of them are not. What they do is often as bad and often worse, but false accusations in my humble opinion undermine the value of animals as sentient beings and cause mistrust as well as sympathy being generated for the accused. Others will no doubt disagree. A child rapist will of course serve far less time in prison than an animal rights activist showing the real values of our warped society.

Gladys Hammond case gets brought up yet again

None of the defendants had anything whatsoever to do with this. In fact no activist has admitted to, been found guilty of or has been charged with disinterring Mrs Hammonds earthly remains. A huge question mark remains over whether it was animal rights activists or a state perpetuated hoax. For the sake of argument let us say that it was animal rights activists who did this ghastly deed, horrible yes but no living creature was harmed. In fact BAA intend to desecrate 3 entire graveyards if the Heathrow expansion goes ahead. What of the sacred relics of indigenous peoples which include their dead which languish in museums? Do BAA workers and museum curators deserve to go to prison? I will just say my own personal view is that whilst I view a dead body as an empty shell one of the hallmarks of decency is to show respect for that empty shell which includes the corpses of abused guinea pigs strewn over Darley Oaks farm. I remember once in the Lake District coming across a lamb literally splattered across the road. The ewe was hysterical and it was only when I stopped the traffic and retrieved the bits of body together and placed them at her feet that her pitiful lamentations stopped, meanwhile my companion who was a meat eater was throwing up. However grotesque this act may appear it is nowhere near the depths those who experiment on animals go to when they mutilate the bodies of the living. I repeat NONE OF THE DEFENDANTS HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS. Showing the grave in connection with this unrelated case was obviously meant to intimate that SHAC and indeed all animal rights campaigners dig up corpses.

“Vicious” phonecalls/Nasty things being sent in the post

Let me make this perfectly clear. Whilst I am sure that some activists did send junk mail, nasty things and make nasty phone calls, do people seriously think that this was a one way street? Vivisectors and their sympathisers would often ring up threatening to torture animals, threatening to kill us, threatening all sorts of stuff. Once when I collected the Newchurch Campaign post the post office workers and I were subjected to the liquefied corpse of a mouse which stank the place out, as indeed was Evesham police station where I took the little corpse and the jiffy bag it came in to have the crime recorded. Was I a sobbing wreck? No not really and I did not expect the police to spend £3.5 million investigating the offence which was just as well because they were saving their pennies for stopping peaceful protest at Sequani. On the 26th June 2003 the following came to my house; some leather bags, flowery dresses bizarrely addressed to Brian Cass, some jeans and some books and this is not uncommon. In fact sending leather knowingly to a vegan is morally the same as sending pork sausages to devout Muslims so please let us not even pretend that HLS workers are the divine paragons of innocence the media portray them as. I get lots of junk mail wittily addressed to Miss B. Hugger and lots of other amusing stuff. I have been sent pizzas that I have not ordered. I am not bothered it comes with the territory even though I have not done likewise to anyone else. I would suggest that someone who spends their days poisoning innocent creatures should stop whinging and also take this sort of thing in their stride, the wimps! Of course the police SHOULD be impartial on this matter, if 7 people are facing 14 years in prison because others sent nasty things in the post and making phone calls then should not those on the opposing side be prosecuted too? The media are aware of the fact that vivisectors and hunters threaten and harass animal rights people but always choose to omit that part of the tale which I find a bit sinister. Is it really any suprise in this climate that some activists lose all faith in legal campaigning and the courts? Talking of “nasty things” HLS and all their little fiends (sorry…friends!) love sending bits of paper to me usually attached to process servers with shades who peer into the house and last year Fidelity International sent 2 of their hired thugs not only to serve some nonsense on me but to go up straight to the window and photograph me. I can live with it but if I were to do the same to a Fidelity employee I would be imprisoned for a very long time. When did it become acceptable for private corporations to blatantly attempt to intimidate protestors at home?

Threats to infect with HIV

This is not pleasant but is clearly an empty threat. Even if a sanitary towel were infused with HIV infected blood the virus would well long dead within minutes let alone days during which it winds its way through the post. In fact some public loos pose more of a threat due to overflowing sani bins. Hepatitus is much more of a concern. What annoys me is the slack journalism that exaggerates the myth of HIV being something you get through the ether as opposed to unprotected sex or sharing needles with an infected person. Now even if someone actually deliberately infected a victim with HIV I think it is unlikely they would go to prison for up to 14 years. Very serious injuries inflicted with the utmost cruelty rarely receive even a third of this and we are talking about threats here, made not by the defendants but by other people.

Now on the news on 23rd December 2008 a bloke called Alistair Nisbet was gloating quite a bit no doubt because he was the senior prosecutor in this case. In November 2007 he made lots of threats which were as it turned out to be empty. There were many raids on 1st May 2007 which included lots of people on the peripheries of this legal campaign, lots of computers were taken including mine. Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act Alistair demanded our PGP keys under pain of 2 years in prison, the fact that many of us did not use PGP or in some cases not even know how to turn on a computer or even have a computer mattered not to Alistair who basically “tried it on” in order to divide and scare people into giving him information. It did not work especially after Indymedia, the Register and the BBC all reported on the matter and lots of people were horrified by the prospect of the state blackmailing people into handing over personal files but it shows how the CPS are quite capable of playing dirty. A word of advice, often the CPS and the police are bluffing this was a prime example.

Walking into offices, talking to workers

Some papers put something about “breaking into“ offices. This is not what happens in the time honoured tradition of occupying offices and shops a tactic which MANY campaigns used not just SHAC. Nowadays there is something called Aggravated Trespass to take into account. It used to only apply to “interfering with a legal activity” outside, but now applies inside too, however it is not illegal to occupy offices but can be if the right person tells you to leave and you do not. Back in the days when they could use reasonable force to move you and that was that I used to do this all the time often sitting down at board meetings, conference calls etc before being kicked out by security or the police(often literally, some of the bruises were quite spectacular!), on occasion workers and indeed managers would engage in conversation about vivisection, leaflets would be handed out. It paid to be polite and to try and be humorous, after all many workers had not heard about HLS and when they did they were outraged that the company they worked for was involved with such cruelty. On TV people in skull masks could be seen mulling around whilst one “victim” looks rather bemused, at least it made their working day a bit more exciting. Do those people deserve to spend up to14 years in prison for walking into an office, making a bit of noise, handing out leaflets and going outside again? To those who think they do get a grip!

Graffiti/Vandalism/Property damage

Of course this is not pleasant for those at the receiving end, but surely if Joe Bloggs reads a leaflet about how Pfizer abused African children in grotesque experiments in the 21st century in which many of them were murdered and he is incensed with that information he has choices:

1. Hide from the information, “this can’t be true, surely SOMEONE would have done SOMETHING”.
2. He can lobby his MP and write to newspapers and donate to charity
3. He can demonstrate legally and peacefully, hand out leaflets and maybe be civilly disobedient by blocking the gates at Pfizer’s HQ in Sandwich, Kent.
4. He can read the letter sent back by his MP (who happens to have just got a nice payout from Pfizer’s lobbyists) and look in vain for his letter in the paper, he can go to a demonstration and maybe face years in prison or he can decide that the only way to have any impact on this heartless corporation is to target those who make the decisions where it really hurts. He is a good person he does not wish to hurt them physically but he does want them to stop committing atrocities and so he torches cars belonging to executives, in a way which does not cause harm to any living thing of course. If he is caught, and he has been careful no criminal record, no presence on demonstrations, he may even face less time in prison than the person involved in producing the leaflet! Leafleting and peaceful protest have now become more dangerous to liberty than firebombing. Severe sentences mean that if someone is prepared to go to such lengths that they will try and make their risks worthwhile.

If the police cannot catch Joe Bloggs is that really the fault of the campaign which produced the leaflet? Should “the organisers” serve a sentence in his stead? Should anything (including newspaper reports and programmes such as Dispatches which reported on Pfizer’s disgusting crimes in Africa) which causes a multinational to be detested be forthwith abolished or should not a decent society put the executives responsible in the dock and charge them with genocide?

A very nasty case of intimidation from the police occurred when I was attacked by PC Manton. A woman came to my aid as I lay on the tarmac splattered in blood. She was none too happy with me or SHAC but as a decent person tried to make me comfortable and then came forward to the police to testify against Manton who had left me with life threatening injuries. I bumped into her long after the trial and she told me that since she became a prosecution witness the police would stop her car 3 times a week, there were death threats at home and when she spoke to the senior investigating officer he told her that he could not protect her and that it might be best if she did not testify at all. Now that’s what I call blackmail! This was a person who did not care for the animal rights movement but was brave enough to do her civic duty and who was terrorised for doing so. During the trial some of the jury looked petrified - no wonder they found him not guilty if that is how the police were operating at that time. To my knowledge NEVER has any witness or juror been threatened by animal rights activists.

Talking about how nasty vivisectors are

It is said in The Times that Heather said to Dan, referring to those who worked inside HLS, “I could kill every last one of them and I wouldn’t think anything of it””. SO WHAT! This was a private conversation at home between 2 adults. Now if Heather had in fact killed every single last employee of HLS I can understand how this might be relevant, but are we now as a population to be judged on everything we say in private? How many times has the phrase “I’m gonna bloody kill …..(insert your own nemesis here)”, even when talking about loved ones? Now for those who think it is acceptable to use this as evidence, imagine you are on trial and someone has cherry picked the best quotes from 2 years of your private life to show you in your worst possible light. You are letting off steam about the bastard who cut you up at the roundabout, the traffic warden, the idiot who short-changed you, you interfering mother-in-law, Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, ALL politicians, ad infinitum, it hardly makes you a terrorist. On the other hand maybe it does now - you have been warned! Not even a saint, not even Ghandi would look good. Sorry if I am making a false accusation here but I bet in the privacy of their own homes and police stations our enemies even say they would like to kill us! I would not expect them to go to prison for it; in fact it is their private conversation they can say what they like, I don’t care. Heather did not kill, try to kill or threaten to kill anyone, she had what should have been a private conversation and if that is the worst that they could come up with after bugging an activist house for 2 years, then really the defendants have been far more restrained than most of the population. Jeremy Clarkson in the Sunday Times (28/12/2008) writing about sales assistants says “do not sell my details to anyone in India or I will come round in the middle of the night and burn your shop down”, is he a “terrorist” too? This is of course Jeremy being funny not in his own home but in a national paper, do we want him locked away for up to 14 years? (on the other hand……).

Anyway HLS workers and shareholders when they socialise what do they have to say about us? Well we don’t have our own private police force with a blank cheque who can do 24 hour surveillance, use task forces of 700 bullies to smash down doors and drag our opposition off, but we do have some stuff from the pro HLS triple iii bulletin board to share with you all, here are a small sample of quotes, note the misogyny:

From “terrified vomiting beagle”, “I wish someone would just slaughter these toerags”.

From “smirking rabbit”, “Perhaps myself and Bozz could spit roast her while the others punch her repeatedly in the face. By the time they’ve finished beating her, I’ll pull up my kecks and peak over her shoulder for any sign of improvement”.

From “Lord Dave” “elephant whore”

“it is easier to monitor any activist if they live near an Army base (don’t ask “why” it just is)”.

Now we have SHAC WATCH to continue from where triple iii left off and they like to publish the names and addresses of activists, even though on at least one occasion only the police had that address. Animal rights activists have published the names and addresses of vivisectors but then those responsible went to prison for it. What are the chances of those involved with SHAC WATCH being prosecuted?

With such an uneven playing field is it really any surprise that the law is broken and held in such contempt?

Not handing in petitions to the government

The Times accuse SHAC of not handing in petitions. Petitions have been handed in. What happens is that when a substantial amount of signatures are collected (I think 250,000 were handed in at some stage probably a lot more, as opposed to the pro vivisection “people’s petition” being online with only 20,000 signatures) they are then handed in. I am not surprised that the police found lots of boxes of petitions, people queued to sign them and they would have been handed in to the government at an opportune moment. As the police have taken them all off somewhere it is rather difficult for anyone to hand them in!

Greg is the leader of the ALF.

No he is not. No one leads the ALF. The ALF is a banner under which activists willing to break the law, but who do not wish to harm any living being, operate. If you decide to liberate a dog from a farm where s/he is tethered you are an ALF activist (if you want to be and are at least vegetarian) for the duration of the action of mercy. The ALF has no membership, no leaders, no followers. Sorry NETCU but some people are able to operate without being given orders unlike police officers and journalists!

SHAC are trying to kill people.

This is from Will Self writing in the Sunday Times magazine. It is absolute crap. Now if SHAC really did try to kill people everyone should be laughing at the ineptitude of said activists, no dead bodies at all. SHAC have not even tried to threaten to kill ANYONE let alone actually done the deed.

Which leads us onto the subject of violence.

Michelle Rokke got a job at HLS New Jersey USA in 1996. She filmed a small primate being eviscerated whilst still conscious, log on to and watch as the knife slices into the sternum and the victim flinches in agony. This is obscene violence which not one of the HLS workers will ever face. Michelle met a primate called James, an inquisitive little soul who she befriended Gradually, instead of greeting her at the cage door, he slunk down in absolute terror poisoned to death so that we can have yet another chemical cleaner to poison ourselves with. 500 animals are murdered at HLS every day. As opposed to feeling a bit upset because someone has sent something yucky in the post, this is an atrocity.

“Ah but they are only animals” no doubt some of you will be saying, as indeed was the reaction of our chum CPS supremo Alistair Nisbet who implied in his CPS press release that HLS only does medical research. We utterly renounce this. As animal rights activists we believe that we are all animals; the name itself derives from the Greek meaning “being with a soul”. There is something called the theory of evolution, we all came from single cell organisms and developed into complex beings capable of thought, feelings, relationships and suffering. To actually believe that we are the pinnacle of evolution is pathetic - look at Palestine and Israel, look at people trafficking, the use of torture and the death penalty by many states, the fact that the slave trade is still alive and well, the subjugation of women, the continued extermination of the very eco system on which we depend for our very existence, and come back and tell me that our species is anything but a killer ape with delusions of grandeur whose numbers have reached plague proportions! No doubt by now someone is dusting down the old 'humans only have rights because they have responsibility' argument, so I just one question: what responsibilities did the mother of baby P have? Accepting that we are just another animal may be our only chance of survival as we might then stop ourselves behaving like spoilt brats. A little humility would do us no harm at all.

Some may argue that God put us in charge and that we are somehow divine, which I find odd for any scientist especially as we have made such a mess of things, but many of us believe in God, and Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, Hindus and atheists have attended SHAC demos.

We also believe that HLS workers are animals like the rest of us. Therefore they have rights too which is why the violence they inflict on others has never been visited on them and never will be. I have talked quite a few HLS employees over the years and would not wish harm on any of them. After all whilst doing a stall in Diss I was told by a man that his daughter worked at HLS and one day she secreted out a box full of rats. Other employees (now EX-employees) have shown great courage by exposing the cruelty inflicted at HLS. Many more have left the company not because of SHAC or the ALF, but because they have found themselves sickened by the abuse. As in slaughterhouses those who cannot quickly kill off part of their soul and become desensitised leave traumatised by the experience and the turnover is great.

No doubt some people reading this only care about human beings, and so I would like to tell you about “Belate”, a pesticide sprayed on crops in the UK which caused 42 children to be born without eyes. It was made by DuPont, a customer of HLS, and if not actually tested at HLS would most probably have been tested at another contract testing laboratory such as Covance, Safepharm, Sequani, Wickham labs etc. HLS, according to their own website, are not diligently working through the night curing cancer, they are paid to test things on animals which are then sold making a profit for their customers. This includes artificial sweeteners and additives, household cleaners, paint, industrial chemicals, agro chemicals, genetically modified organisms, plastics, anything and everything that might come into contact with humans. Testing a pesticide on a few fish and mice does not however mean that because they did not keel over and die that it is safe to be sprayed all over the place for the next 50 years until the birth defects and increase in cancer rates are proven and it is banned with those responsible either dead or retired. HLS also test veterinary products on animals which involves inducing cystitis in dogs, dosing them, killing them and dissecting them and of course it involves getting maximum profit from factory farmed animals linking up with the meat industry. Dairy cows are deliberately infected with mastitis at HLS, hardly life saving research especially as milk products are luxuries not necessities.

When it comes to violence even the Animal Rights Militia are but amateurs compared to HLS. In fact if we look right back from 1999 until now over 8 years I think that out of everything that has happened on both sides I win on suffering the worst violence inflicted as a result of the conflict and of all the media outlets there are only the Hunts Post reported on this in any real depth, no one is interested in reporting police/vivisector perpetuated violence and the omission has led to a rather skewed public perception of these matters. We blocked the A1 with tripods and a police officer broke my femur in several places and smashed up my face by dismantling it with me being 20 feet up in the air. I lost a litre of blood and could have died as a result of his assault. His colleagues did arrest him and eventually charge him with GBH, but only did so because the assault was so public and caused such outrage. Their revenge was swift from the arrest and remand in custody of my companion, the raids which took place 2 weeks later, to the harassment and threats which only stopped when my lawyer taught them some manners. I have already mentioned how one witness was persecuted. Many activists have been assaulted, unlawfully arrested, threatened, imprisoned, watched, spied on and terrorised. Many of us regard this as part of the price we pay for being activists but others who have never and would never do anything illegal and limit their activities to getting petitions signed and writing polite letters in a so-called democracy are subjected to utterly inappropriate levels of repression. I would urge anyone subjected to police bullying to make a huge fuss about it. Believe you me they want people to be frightened of them but they do not like complaints (bad for promotion and figures) or being sued.

Finally a message to all activists, even activists who do not believe that this in any way applies to them and are pro vivisection. This is a precedent, the CPS and the police and their overlords in the multinationals have discovered something which will silence anyone who runs any effective campaign against the crimes multinationals are so famous for e.g. selling weapons to despots, making torture equipment, backing genocidal regimes, poisoning the water, air and soil, experimenting on children in poorer countries, killing babies by misleading populations about formula milk and so forth. Some people will go to prison for much longer than if they had beaten someone half to death or raped a child, others will no doubt follow.

Read Alistair’s press release at the following link, and think about how this methodology could be used against other campaigns the state wants to get rid of. All grass roots activists need to think about security arrangements and worst case scenarios very carefully. I would not even put it past the powers that be to go after the larger well established campaigning groups at some stage such as the Tory party (oh!.. they already have).

A huge part of our defence is not to give in to this repression. SHAC demos continue. Even if you do not agree with SHAC this is a matter of liberty so feel free to look deeper than the national press and ask some questions about proportionality and the increasing attack on civil liberties.

Interestingly the NETCU website is down for some sort of updating but we will respond when they put up what will no doubt be a big biased piece against SHAC.

Lynn Sawyer

Netcu Watch
- e-mail: warn at riseup dot net
- Homepage:


Display the following 10 comments

  1. brillint article — sad
  2. indeed — (A)
  3. Very well... — JRK
  4. Fantastic article! — Paul
  5. What exactly is "lawful" these days? — Lynn Sawyer
  6. Question. — Paul
  7. Good article — Vegan
  8. Please send this in.. — SHACtavist
  9. re: why did some SHAC people plead guilty? — @non
  10. ... and who are the criminals? — Liberation Mag Reader
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