‘Granarchist’ is cleared of harassing lab staff

Portsmouth news 27th September 2006

THE pensioner dubbed the ‘granarchist’ has been cleared of harassing workers at a controversial animal testing laboratory.

Pauline Nelson, 80, commonly known by her middle name Helen, walked free from court yesterday despite admitting using a megaphone to berate and insult staff at Wickham Laboratories, in Wickham, near Fareham.

Mrs Nelson was cleared along with her co-accused, Sarah Whitehead, 49. After the hearing, both criticised the police for charging them and vowed to continue protesting.

District Judge David Purcell threw out the case, brought by the Crown Prosecution Service, concluding that although the words used by the protesting pair were generally abusive, there was no evidence they had upset anyone in particular.

Mrs Nelson, ‘the granarchist’, from Brune Lane, Gosport, and Ms Whitehead, from Littlehampton, are both well-known to the labs for their frequent protests.

On May 25 they used loud-hailers to chant: ‘Wickham Labs – animal killers’ and ‘animal murderers’. Security staff filmed the two women from inside their grounds, where Ms Whitehead was heard telling staff: ‘You all have blood on your hands.’

Security manager Damian Watson also claimed they called staff ‘scum’ and ‘perverts’ but the film failed to capture this.

Police officers were called and Inspector Shaun Moore, the first on the scene, also claimed to hear the abusive words. After the pair refused to stop, they were arrested.

District Judge Purcell, sitting at Fareham Magistrates’ Court, stopped yesterday’s trial after deciding no-one had been caused harassment, alarm or distress – only ‘annoyance’ or ‘irritation’.

The judge accepted the words were abusive but said nobody had been harassed.

Afterwards, Mrs Nelson said: ‘Justice has been done. We will continue to use the megaphones and carry on protesting outside the labs. This has been a waste of taxpayers’ money. It’s ridiculous.’

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