Seven animal rights activists who blackmailed companies linked to an animal testing laboratory have been jailed for between four and 11 years.
They used paedophile smears, criminal damage and bomb hoaxes to intimidate companies associated with Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) in Cambridgeshire.
Heather Nicholson, Gerrah Selby, Daniel Wadham and Gavin Medd-Hall were found guilty of conspiracy to blackmail. Gregg and Natasha Avery, of Hampshire, and Daniel Amos admitted the charge.
Sentencing the activists, Mr Justice Butterfield called the campaign “urban terrorism” and a “relentless, sustained and merciless persecution” which had made the victims lives “a living hell”.
He said he accepted that the seven had genuine deeply-held beliefs that animal testing was wrong, and had the right to protest against it. But he told them that companies had the right to conduct vital biomedical research and the right to conduct lawful trading…
“You are not going to prison for expressing your beliefs, you are going to prison because you have committed a serious criminal offence.”
Another defendant, Trevor Holmes, 51, from Newcastle, was cleared.
Political amateurs with no ability to define or implement, comprehend political strategy and tactics. Their approach to the task they defined had little to differentiate it from religious fanatics willing to kill or maim civilians to make their point.
Sad, but true.