303 gsi gateway and police disruption

At last! Schnews has written a brilliant article on how NETCU et al have been trolling on the internet. This has been going on for years and is most notable on certain anti animal rights websites which target and smear activists as well as Indymedia. The police have put up posts and comments which:
are disruptive
pretend to be from named activists in an attempt to discredit
are fictional
threatening (we have highlighted at least one of these on a previous post)
give out names, addresses, private emails and phone numbers of activists
are vindictive and hateful
The fact that the individual police officers concerned are paid to disrupt campaigning in this way is an absolute disgrace. The sheer vitriol that comes out of many of these snide attempts to demoralise is proof that the political police units are not there to “protect” anything other than corporate profits and their own very lucrative little positions. They hate activists but at the same time depend on us for their swanky vehicles and luxury accomodation (according to Mark Kennedy in the Mail on Sunday this weekend). They do their best to exaggerate the danger and rake in the cash from the taxpayer whilst facing no real risks.
Must be nice having to do nothing more than make up crap for Indymedia, blogs and of course facebook we presume AND get an enhanced salary.
Right now as the Earth burns and billions of animals die in agony all the police in NDET, NPIOU, FIT, NETCU, Rumble, Achilles and other anti activist operations want to do is keep the torture, the murder, the violation, the sacrilege going and they are prepared to wreck the lives of anyone who stands up against their freinds in the multinationals, the hunts and the labs. They are nothing more than the lackeys of those who rip animals apart, who destroy the forests and who make a profit over crucifying any man woman or child who interferes with making hard cash. This is nothing to do with the law every single officer and civilian worker involved with these police units could have chosen to have done something else, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE LOWLIFE is the enemy of every decent person and has decided to do what they can to induce a police state. Recognise them as the enemy and above all FIGHT BACK. More to follow….much more..


The Daily Fail (or is it Heil?) slanders prisoners

We have read some absolute crap over the years but Andrew Malone’s “investigation” into “A terrorist called Mumsy” has to win some sort of prize!
Andrew regurgitating a NETCU press release is not an investigation dearie and for those who read this give Andrew and DCI Andy Robbins any credibility consider the following facts;
Sarah has been in prison for years now but according to Andrew she has only been in for a week!
How exactly can a prisoner be forced to wear leather shoes? First Andrew says Sarah is forced to wear leather, then he says she is living a vegan life of Riley. Did you make this up in the pub Andrew or what?
Sarah had nothing to do with digging up Gladys Hammond.
If SHAC were a “ruthless IRA-style gang” where are all the bodies and limping people who have been knee-capped, those who have been tarred and feathered? (we at NW fully acknowledge that atrocities were committed by the UVF and British soldiers and police as well during the Troubles). Stop exaggerating Andrew, we know it makes a better headline but really show some respect to those who have suffered both in Ireland and on the UK mainland especially as we approach Rememberance Sunday.
What extensive training at “safe houses” on how to avoid police surveillance?
And it goes on and on and on 2 entire pages worth.
Solidarity with Sarah and the other activists who have been painted as her mere stooges.

Arggggh the foxes are coming….PANIC NOW

This has been going on just a little bit. Today the Daily Mail really get going….again. On page 25 we hear the terror of a family who escaped with their lives after a fox cub sat on a bedroom window sill with the inevitable “air of menace” (we hope he pissed on their curtains the wimps).
Things really get going on pages 28-29 with Paul Bracchi’s hilarious investigation into “the real animals” i.e the ANIMAL RIGHTS EXTREMISTS who have dared to question the accepted orthodoxy that
1. a fox mauled the Kouparris twins
2. that as a result all foxes must die
3. that anyone who does not go along with all the histrionics is an animal rights extremist nutter who must be locked away.
4. that the police have to protect the family in case they are attacked by people who do not swallow hook, line and sinker their story.

Right, so the facebook 3 mentioned spoke to one another and used some strong language questioning the story and condemning the murders of innocent creatures which followed. Some of the quotes mentioned are not pleasant but hey we show a couple of examples of naughty death threats and swearing from animal abusers on this site and the police are not protecting us (prabably because some police officers are naughty enough to write some of this stuff maybe), nor do we want them to. Paul wants the FB 3 locked up all the same though. How dare they contradict the Daily Mail?

He also says that they regard babies and foxes as morally the same the heretics. Well the term animal rights or animal liberation in a nutshell is the acceptance that other animals have a s much right to be and to live as humans do, we do not buy the old Abrahamic tradition which dictates humans are more important as a fact without substantiation. We accept that we are evolved from other apes and part of the web of life and not above other species. It is not anti human, this way of living accepts humans as worthy of compassion and respect but extends that courtesy to all living beings. Thus to kill every fox in the area just because one might have injured a baby maybe in a panic whilst escaping is indeed the same as killing every taxi driver in Cumbria the only difference being that if you were to do the latter you might get nicked!Oh yes and the body count as well but then humans are very good at killing, maiming and torturing far better than any other animal.
In fact babies have far more to fear from our own species than any other.
Leaving children alone in gardens or in houses with windows open allowing access is a risk which parents have to take into account. This sounds like a freak accident and a hysterical purge in which entire innocent families are euphemistically “humanely killed” (how is murder “humane”?) should be subject to ridicule and scrutiny.

Good luck to the facebook 3 and we suggest that you get legal advice, the Daily Mail have a nasty habit of demonising people which oft preceeds a police investigation and arrests.

On page 36 Jan Moir gives her two penny worth by saying that because Brian May, that naughty bad man, has questioned the story as well that he should make amends to the family. WTF???!!!!

We hope that the Kouparris family rebuild their lives and that the twins get better quickly from whatever happened and urge that the demonification of an entire species stops as let’s face it compared to humans the great killer ape they are angelic. Even if they do piss everywhere at least they don’t annihilate an entire ecosystem by pouring oil into the sea. As for the media, for goodness sake stop reporting on this shite and voice concerns about real threats to children such as global warming, the putrification of land and water, the steady erosion of our civil liberties etc. It is getting really boring now.

We have yet to view Panorama which also looks at this case…sigh.

Terrorism Act 2000 urgent alert to all activists coming into the UK

As far as I know this law has been used to detain and question activists only once before at a sea port so has rarely been used by police against activists. Two of us were detained last night on flying back from Oslo and arriving at Birmingham and I feel that it is important that other activists are aware of these extraordinary police powers and how to avoid them intruding where they really should not. I and my companion were released after a few hours of what they called “examination” and we did talk to lawyers and there was a bit of comedy value to the whole farce so it was not all bad BUT they can stop and question ANYONE they want so be prepared all who wish to enter the UK whatever your beliefs are, whatever your activism entails.

We walked through the passport bit and were stopped by a Detective Constable called Jack 3876 and a woman 1245 from West Midlands police who wanted to know our names and addresses and occupations, where we had been, what we had done, who we had met etc. A little bemused by the questioning I stopped answering at “occupation” (let alone who, what why, where…) and lo and behold they decided that they had suspicions and that they wanted a more cosy little chat we were taken to a desk and told to fill in cards which included information about name, address, date of birth etc. We filled in what we could (ie not al lot)and then came questions about how we paid for flights. They then looked at my credit card which is a Visa and has for many years paid some small amount to Amnesty International and has the AI logo on it. They really did not like this saying that caring about human rights was suspicious and we were detained under the Terrorism Act 2000 and separated for questioning.

For those who are not aware PACE does not apply in this instance. It appears (as this has not been challenged in court) that the detained person commits an offence under this act if s/he refuses to answer any questions and they were getting quite cross with me when I did not “cooperate” almost shouting “you HAVE to answer”. For those who utter the mantra “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about” the questions included asking about my parents details, if I had any children, work, colleagues, friends, if I had a partner, any drug addictions, religious beliefs all in all far beyond the remit of preventing terrorism and well into the realms of a gigantic fishing expedition coupled with threats of prolonged incarceration. I was under the distinct impression that if I did answer a question about for example my mother that it would lead to many more questions of a personal nature so I refused to play that little game.

First they tried to intimidate by saying that if I did not answer questions that they would hold me for 9 hours, then arrest me under the Terrorism Act and hold me for 48 hours then apply to a magistrate and hold me for 7 days. This was followed by an emphasis on the fact that unlike under PACE I was not entitled to free legal advice with them implying that it would cost a fortune to access a lawyer. I demanded one anyway (and would advise others to do the same money can be raised afterwards) and spoke to a good human rights lawyer who helped me as much as he was able. They can (if a Superintendant believes it is appropriate) refuse ANY access to a lawyer for 48 hours, I was apparently not entitled to a private conversation with my lawyer, police were present at all times, if PACE applied it would have been breached. As the attempts at intimidation did not work and Gene Hunt declined an appearance it was then on to sympathising with animal rights (ohh I HATE fur etc etc ad infinitum). This then went on to trying to provoke anger which consisted of getting out all my T shirts and taking the piss out of some of the sentiments written on them for example “what’s wrong with angling?” using a rather mocking tone and then writing down all the slogans they seemed to like the SPEAK T’shirt especially and were at one stage going to keep it, runners up were the WARN hoodie and a CAFT T’shirt which I admit has a naughty word on it! This was rather amusing it has to be said.

They were interested in who I knew, who the organisers of the organisation are (what organisation? you may ask dear reader and no I don’t know either), religion, philosophy, who I had met and lots of other stuff. None of this was taped our little chum Jack just wrote down his questions my “no comment”, silences and occasional answers to questions which I believed harmed no one for example no I am not a drug addict, no I do not have any bombs or stuff. Now those who enjoy a good rant could have all sorts of fun if careful pertaining to beliefs and obsessions such as being a Jedi or something but I was good and did not indulge in this sort of fun, it would have been cruel. I was ever more conscious that answering any questions about others was not only utterly unethical (ie grassing) but would lead to many more questions. For example say I had said in answer to a question “who did you meet?” and I had said “Bill”, they would have had a whole new avenue of questioning about Bill his Mum, his Mum’s goldfish and what they have for dinner, what time and all his associates, and all their associates and so on and so on. Logic decreed that they were probably pushing their boundaries to the legal limits and that if I wanted to get out that giving the police the infinite boring details about my life and everyone else I know was not the sensible way to do it.

The police have kept my mobile phone, they have also photocopied every piece of paper credit card receipts, notebook and diary in retrospect it was not too clever to have such things so easily accessible but I am sure that it is possible that if my sim card was hidden that they might have gone looking for it. I should imagine that they would have got really excited if I had a laptop on me. I was given a pat down search and not strip searched. I was only held for a couple of hours and a file might be going to the CPS to say that I was uncooperative which might be an offence.

The information word for word given to me is reptyped below (the scanner is not working).


Notice of Examination


This notice is to inform you that you are being questioned under the provisions of Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 as someone whose presence at the port of Birmingham is believed to be connected with entering or leaving Great Britain or Northern Ireland or travelling by air within Northern Ireland or Great Britain. This in itself does not necessarily mean that the examining officer who is questioning you suspects that you are a person who is, or has been, concerned in the commission , preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. The purpose of the questioning is to enable him to determine whether you appear to be such a person.

Your duties

You have a duty to be truthful and to give the examining officer all the information in your possession which the officer requests. You must also give to him , if he so requests, a valid passport, or other document which establishes your identity. You must also declare whether you have with you any documents o a kind specified by the officers, and if he so requests, give them to him. The Examining officer may also search your luggage.

The examining officer may, for the purpose of examination, detain any document which you have given to him, or anything found during a search of your luggage, for a period not exceeding 7 days (beginning with the day on which the detention commenced).
You may also be asked, or have been asked, to complete and hand to the officer an arrival or embarkation card. If so you have a duty to comply with that request.

If you deliberately fail to comply with any of these duties, you could be prosecuted under paragraph 18(1) of Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000.

Your Rights

You may, if you so request, have someone close to you, or known to you or likely to take an interest in your welfare informed that you are being questioned and where you are. You can do this at public expense. You may also consult a solicitor, wither in person, in writing or by telephone. If you do not wish to make a request now you can still do so later at any time.


The examining officer also has the authority to detain you, if necessary, for up to 9 hours from the time your examination began.

The Terrorism Act 2000

Notice of Detention

To ………..

You have been detained under the provisions of Schedule 7 paragraph 6 of the Terrorism Act 2000, so that an Examining Officer may exercise his power under paragraph 2 to determine if you are a person who has been involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

Do you want someone informed?

You may, if you wish at public expense, have a friend, a relative, a person who is known to you, or is likely to take an interest in your welfare, informed that you are being detained here. Under the provisions of Schedule 8, para 8 of the Terrorism Act 2000 or Schedule 8, para 16 in Scotland, an officer of at least the rank of Superintendent may delay this right for up to 48 hours.

Do you want to contact a solicitor?

You may consult either in person, in writing or on the telephone, privately with a solicitor. If you do not wish to do so now, you may do so later and at any time while you are detained. Under the provisions of Schedule 8 para 8 of the Terrorism Act 2000 or Schedule 8, para 16 in Scotland, an officer of at least the rank of Superintendant may delay this right for up to 48 hours.”

So there we are a nice little loophole for the police to exploit away from the watchful eye of PACE to bully and harass those they decree are subversives. The main issue is that no activist should endanger themselves or another to escape what would appear to be a minor charge as it is summary with a maximum sentence of 3 months. I suspect few have been stopped like this but a strategy is needed and activists either returning to the UK or visiting need not to be frightened or paranoid but mentally prepared . Comments, advice, feedback etc would be most welcome.

In Oslo FIT were present and working with Norwegian police i.e Sergeant Sully from the Met’ CO996 and a South Yorkshire cop from Barnsley police station 1818. Both are well known to animal rights activists and have been on many other demos eg Climate Camp. The police state is ever more oppressive.

Oh by the way DC 1245 was absolutely right I have put this up on the internet, sorry to be so predictable but there you are, it is only fair to warn people that first of all the police do have extraordinary powers at ports , secondly that these powers appear not yet to have been fully challenged and thirdly that however grim this may appear that there is no reason to furnish the police with information which is beyond their remit. There is no reason to tell the police personal stuff about self or anything at all about other people.

Lynn Sawyer

Presence of Malice: UK Activists v. Lee Hall

Or: What REALLY Happened in the Churchyard

Steve Best and Jason Miller with Joan Court, Janet Tomlinson, and Lynn Sawyer


I. Background

Anyone who follows the animal rights movement in England knows that the direct action element has become increasingly powerful and controversial. By abandoning what they see to be futile efforts to persuade a government beholden to corporate interests and speciesist ideology to respect the rights of animals, a growing number of activists have taken the fight directly to the animal exploiters themselves. Over the last few decades, groups such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), SPEAK (originally named Stop Primate Experiments at Cambridge), and Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs (SNGP) have developed highly effective campaigns against all facets of the vivisection industry. While the ALF is an underground network of activists engaged in “criminal” actions involving sabotage, arson, and break-ins, other direct action groups such as SHAC and SPEAK are aboveground organizations and employ legal approaches.

Whereas campaigns against factory farming dominate animal advocacy in the US, in England a major activist focus is on vivisection. In the last decade, animal rights activists have mounted intense protests against the vivisection industry, attacking it in the countryside and cities, village farms and university laboratories alike. In the last decade, animal liberationists have closed down numerous vivisection breeders and thwarted plans for major experiment labs at Cambridge and Oxford universities. Militant anti-vivisectionists have captured the social spotlight and pose a serious threat to an industry of huge economic importance.


The militant direct action (MDA) element emerged in the 1960s with hunt saboteur groups who used various tactics to confuse hunting dogs and place themselves in the path between the hunters and the hunted. In 1974, the Band of Mercy emerged as a more militant sabotage-oriented movement that attacked hunting and vivisection until its leaders Ronnie Lee and Cliff Goodman were captured and jailed for a year. Goodman turned police informer, but in 1976, after his release, Ronnie Lee began a new and more militant underground organization, aptly named the Animal Liberation Front (see Steven Best and Anthony J. Nocella II, “Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals”).

A New Wave of MDA

A second wave of direct action began with attacks on vivisection suppliers in England. In September 1996, activists began a campaign against Consort Kennels, a major dog breeder for vivisection labs. After months of applying intense pressure, they closed the kennel in July 1997 and adopted 170 beagles to loving homes. In a September 1999, victory, activists targeted Hillgrove Farm which bred cats for experimentation. The same tactics proved effective and Hillgrove closed in August 1999. Over 800 cats were rescued and re-homed. In 2000, activists suit down Shamrock Monkey Farm and Regal Rabbits (rescuing over 1000 rabbits).

Emboldened by the effectiveness of the new direct action approach, Greg Avery and Heather James founded SHAC in 1999. SHACtivists in the UK, US, and elsewhere have waged an aggressive direct action campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), an insidious animal testing company notorious for extreme animal abuse (torturing and killing 500 animals a day) and manipulated research data. SHAC combines a shrewd knowledge of the law, no nonsense direct action tactics, and a singular focus on one corporation that represents the evils of the entire vivisection industry.

For 30 years, the Chris and John Hall family living in the Staffordshire village of Newchurch has bred guinea pigs for animal research. One of their favored clients was HLS, where the animals were used to test sweeteners. Guinea pigs bred by the Halls also were used to test breast implant materials and had industrial cleaning chemicals applied to their backs in a Scottish contract research lab. Various universities tested their nerve response to painful stimuli and forced them to breathe noxious chemicals for prolonged periods of time. Government institutions conducted brain experiments on them. In a September 6, 1999 raid, the ALF rescued 600 guinea pigs and documented the squalid conditions in which the animals lived, in cramped cages littered with the partially eaten bodies of dead and dying babies. The horrors revealed inside the Halls’ sheds provoked widespread disgust and anger, and spawned groups such as Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs (SNGP) which were dedicated to one goal – shutting down the Darley Oaks breeding farm.

Since 1999, activists protested outside the farm every week. As ever more guinea pigs were bred for torture and death, anonymous activists turned up the heat and deployed tactics of harassment, including hate mail, death threats, bomb hoaxes, excrement packages, cutting telephone lines, bricks thrown through windows and other forms of property destruction, arson, character assassination, and detonating explosive devices placed near employee homes on four occasions. Activists also adopted SHAC tactics of targeting suppliers, forcing many to sever ties with the Hall family. To pressure others to treat them as lepers, they vandalized the golf course the Halls played on and threatened the owner of the Red Lion pub with an arson attack if he continued to serve them spirits. The elderly woman who supplied them with diesel and heating fuel eventually stopped delivering to them. A contractor who harvested corn on their farm quit when saboteurs planted metal rods in the ground to destroy his combine harvester. After the tanker firm that collected their milk had its vehicles attacked, the Halls had to sell their dairy herd and close their turkey farm. Even newspaper deliverers were threatened with actions should they continue to cater to the Halls in any manner.

Buoyed by support from Tony Blair and other members of government, the Hall family vowed not to give in to the activists. In its zealous effort to protect the profits of the vivisection and pharmaceutical industries, the British state has demonized animal rights activists as “criminals” and “terrorists.” The Home Office barred prominent US activists from ever again entering the UK as they went to work criminalizing homegrown effective activism. Since 9/11 and the 7/7 bombing, the government drafted increasingly repressive legislation to stop legal forms of protest and rights to free speech, drafting into law measures such as the Public Order Act, the Anti-Social Behavior Orders, the Protection from Harassment Act, the Malicious Communications Act, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, and the Anti-Terrorism and Security Act.

Due to these sundry laws and numerous injunctions, aboveground activists found that they were told where they could protest, for how long, with how many people, and what they could and could not say. Home demonstrations were prohibited, and the state placed increasingly severe restrictions on activist use of Internet sites, as those arrested for the crime of MDA have received hefty jail sentences. As just one of numerous unfortunate examples, in March 2008 the government slapped the founders of SHAC UK with ten year prison sentences.

Mystery of the Grave Robbers

Police remove from a makeshift grave what they believe are the remains of Gladys Hammond

(photo and caption courtesy of the Telegraph.co.uk)

The struggle was carried to a macabre new level when in October 2004 unknown activists — or perhaps even the police manufacturing an excuse to further demonize and repress the MDA movement — raided the grave of Gladys Hammond, Chris Hall’s mother-in-law and stole most of her remains. The act was condemned as sick, depraved, and despicable by church, police, and some of the public, although of course no one mentioned the exploitation of guinea pigs as all of these things and more. In his statement to the BBC News, a rattled John Hall said: “We are not monsters and none of our staff are monsters, we are just ordinary people doing a job that some people don’t like.”

If the Halls are “just ordinary” people, God help us all. In a second act of brazen hypocrisy, the first of course being to perpetuate barbaric treatment of animals in the name of civilization, John Hall said in a Swedish newspaper interview, “If I could only shoot off about thirty of them it would probably be calm after that … If I could kill a hundred of them, I would be guaranteed to get rid of the problem.” Hall’s statement is far more menacing than anything said by Dr. Jerry Vlasak, the North American Animal Liberation Press Office (NAALPO) representative who has been universally condemned in the media for stating the logical truth that killing vivisectors would affect the vivisection industry. And if a UK animal activist made such a statement, he or she would likely be jailed for it.

Whatever moral reservations one might have of the action (if in fact animal activists did it), the tactic was effective, for in the war of attrition waged against them, the Hall family eventually lost. In August 2005, they announced that they could not take anymore pressure and harassment, and that they would give up breeding guinea pigs in favor of “traditional farming.”

The British Union of Anti-Vivisectionism simply deplored the campaign and reaffirmed their commitment to “non-violent” methods of change. Many activists condemned the action without understanding the complexity of the situation. Some did little more that regurgitate distorted media and police press reports. Among these activists, who dogmatically cling to pacifist principles over effective tactics and who show more sympathy for the Hall family than the guinea pigs – none stand out more glaringly than US writer, lawyer, and “animal advocate,” Lee Hall.

Calling Out Lee Hall

Recently in the pages of Thomas Paine’s Corner, we penned two critiques of Lee Hall’s work and her attacks on the MDA movement in the UK and US (see “Pacifism or Animals: Which Do You Love More?” and “Averting the China Syndrome: Response to Our Critics and the Devotees of Fundamentalist Pacifism”) These essays were meant to counter the uncritical reception of the extreme pacifism in Hall’s work and that of others such as Gary Francione, his legion of followers, and Friends of Animals. We were glad to learn that we had alerted UK activists of her disparaging representation of their work, and some very seasoned activists who were directly involved in the events Hall criticizes wrote us to say they would read her book and write back with critical comments,

And they did. We are therefore happy to feature below the responses of three UK activists to the work of Lee Hall. Whereas Hall can dismiss our critiques easily enough, these responses are much harder to deflect as they come from veteran activists directly involved in what Hall so adeptly mischaracterizes in her book, “Capers in the Churchyard.” While Hall is in no way related to the Hall family described above, it is a serendipitous coincidence, for her own bilious defamations of militant animal liberations could easily have come from the mouth of the Hall brothers, as their rancid anti-liberationist discourse elides into her own diatribes.

We first hear from Joan Court, who directly challenges Hall’s portrayal of her own positions in Capers. In the second letter, Janet Tomlinson takes Hall to task for copying biased press reports rather than doing real research and actually talking to UK activists. In the third and longest response, Lynn Sawyer, also impugns Hall for her absurd caricature of the MDA movement in the UK and finds her guilty of spreading “lies by omission.”

Let us say, finally, that we are honored to feature the words of these courageous women; they are paragons of steadfast resistance to murderous speciesism and a decadent and barbarous Western “civilization.” Let us now enter their words into the historical record and stand as a correction to the distortions of the UK police and corporate media, and fundamentalist pacifists and animal “advocates” such as Lee Hall.

II. UK Activists Speak

1. Joan Court


I am Joan Court from Cambridge England, where I have lived for the last 30 years after graduating from the University with a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology. I also have a Master’s degree in social work from Smith’s College Massachusetts. I have been involved with the animal rights movement since 1978 supporting national and local campaigns and have been arrested on several occasions.

Regarding pages 56 and 57 of “Capers in the Churchyard,” I must say that I object to being whitewashed as if I were in opposition to other radical campaigners. The fact of the matter is that I fully support SHAC, SPEAK, the ALF and, when they functioned, SNGP. I have been a crew member on Sea Shepherd and have worked alongside Captain Paul Watson for 10 weeks and respected his total commitment saving the lives of sea mammals.

In regard to the hunger strikes in Oxford it was in fact SPEAK who sponsored me and I raised substantial funds for them.

I support direct action and civil disobedience. Some of those in prison are my friends who I totally support.

Furthermore, regarding page 117 of your book, I would like to ask you which hunger strikers are you referring to, as I am not aware of any other hunger strikers, bar animal rights prisoners in England and Austria. And what is the “terrible conflict within activism” to which you refer? Who are the hunger strikers supposed to despise?

Hunger striking is one of the few tactics left which are not illegal and can be used as a political tool. I am deeply disturbed by the erosion of civil liberties in the UK which affects everyone involved in any radical movement.

I would be glad to have a response to this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Joan Court


2. Janet Tomlinson


I think “Fantasy in the Churchyard” would be a more appropriate title for Lee Hall’s book, “Capers in the Churchyard.” Hall clearly wrote this book to vilify the militant wing of the animal rights movement, and she used distorted UK media accounts to help do the job. Hall obviously has no understanding of right and wrong. While she claims to be an “advocate for animals,” she attacks those who help abused animals and readily accepts the abuse that animals suffer at the hands of cruel, greedy humans who believe animals were created for them to satiate their unnatural urges, or to exploit for money. Does Lee Hall think the degree of abuse sustained by an animal (human or nonhuman) make it more or less acceptable? At the end of the day abuse is abuse and should not be tolerated!

Regarding Hall’s book, I have only read the parts pertaining to the alleged grave-theft of Gladys Hammond and am amazed. If the rest of the book is written in the same vein, it’s a wonder that she hasn’t been sued by the UK press for plagiarism.

I was involved from the outset of the campaign to close Darley Oaks, the guinea-pig breeding farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire UK, and have invited Lee Hall to discuss with me the factual inaccuracies she has irresponsibly included in her work. However she has not had the courtesy to answer my letter and I therefore question her motives for writing such rubbish. She has merely copied press reports without checking as to whether they were factual or not. She has done no research whatsoever regarding Gladys Hammond or she would seriously question the authenticity of her alleged theft from Yoxall cemetery.

She drones on about violence being perpetrated on the Hall family and associates yet fails to mention that out of approximately 200 protesters being arrested at Darley Oaks not one was charged with causing physical harm to an animal abuser. Nor does she mention how many protesters were assaulted by the police, the Hall family, their farm hands, and security guards or how much damage has been done to protesters’ property. Had she watched the ALF video of the horrific conditions in which the Hall family kept the guinea-pigs and watched Chris Hall breaking the necks of 1500 guinea-pigs after the ALF liberated the 600, she would have seen true violence.

Her selective use of press copies is striking, especially the absence of the following report in “The Times” (May 4th 2006): “Police were unable to prove who had physically disinterred Mrs. Hammond’s body; they charged the four extremists with conspiracy which covered the entire campaign, after realizing that one-off prosecutions for more minor offences such as harassment or criminal damage were failing to stop attacks by activists.” This says it all, doesn’t it?

Of the 200 arrested only a handful went to court. Cases were thrown out as a result of the animal abusers’ and police lies. When Harry Ireland (Staffordshire’s Chief Crown Prosecutor) was asked why the liars had not been charged with perjury he replied “They hadn’t lied, it was just their perception of the event.” But of course the animal abusers and police lied; the Hall’s illegal and cruel activities had been exposed and the so-called “police” were voluntary bully boys who would probably shop their mothers for a bonus.

A Darley Oaks protestor and, above right, a photo of Gladys Hammond

Like governments, the police, the vivisection industry, and animal abusers in general, Lee Hall has an apparent hatred for militant animal rights campaigners. She states in her book (which reads like a “fantasy” devoid of factual substance) that protesters were imprisoned for the grave-theft of Gladys Hammond. In fact no protester was charged, convicted, or imprisoned for stealing Gladys Hammond simply because there is no categorical proof that protesters were responsible. Probably those in prison did use the grave-theft to help animals whilst Lee Hall used the grave-theft simply to make money off her book! Activists’ use of Gladys Hammond, a fold up spade, a few letters, and an informative web site seems to be the extent of the evidence against them.

It is not because they are violent that animal rights campaigners are imprisoned; it is because governments fear and fail to control the compassion campaigners feel towards animals, and stupidly believe that if they imprison some it will deter others. Henry David Thoreau wrote; “If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.”

Had it not been for other pressure groups that used questionable methods to change bad laws, we would still be slave trading and women would not be allowed a vote. Does Lee Hall condemn their direct action? Had governments followed Gandhi’s suggestion that “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated, the more helpless the creature the more entitled it is to protection by man from cruelty of man,” and thereby morally progressed instead of supporting animal abuse, there would be no need for animal rights campaigners.

As a propagandist herself, Hall should surely recognize propaganda when she sees it. The demo she refers to as a “victory parade” was arranged weeks before anyone knew the farm was closing. In fact, the police were the ones who dubbed it the “victory parade,” no doubt to incite the public. And while there was a few boos, the majority of the public smiled and waved their support, much to the irritation of the police. Mind you it was a victory, for a cruel and greedy family who had amassed their wealth by intensive “farming” of mink, poultry, and guinea-pigs were finally ending their sordid businesses after the six year campaign against them.

Lee Hall babbles on about how the Archdeacon of Walsall knelt on bended knee beside Gladys Hammond’s desecrated grave, but she fails to mention that the Rev. Jenny Lister vicar of Yoxall, who falsely accused an innocent protester, also bends her knee at what appears to be the wrong grave. Lee Hall claims that “locals pelted the parade with eggs and bacon,” but I recall this as an isolated incident involving one man — a local drunkard who more than likely would have pelted Elizabeth II with anything at hand had she unwittingly interrupted his drinking session.

If we followed Lee Hall’s extreme pacifist philosophy, we would stand by and allow all manner of cruelty to be inflicted on animals. Her book is a nasty piece of fiction and propaganda, and she should be embarrassed for writing such drivel. Morris Dee’s description of the “novel” as a “beautifully written book” and Steve Sapontzis’ description of it as being “informative” and “eloquent” shows that their level of intelligence is zero and along with Lee Hall they should be ashamed for promoting animal abuse.

Hall’s time would be better spent asking campaigners questions such as: Why do you find it necessary to go to the lengths you do? Why do governments insist on allowing the flawed and fraudulent science of vivisection to continue when they are aware of how many humans taking drugs tested on animals are killed every year? How do governments morally justify the violence (she is so concerned about) meted out to sentient creatures, purely for profit? And why does England sponsor an industry which keeps us a sickly nation, and which disease has the use of drugs tested on animals totally eradicated?

If Lee Hall’s account of the alleged grave-theft of Gladys Hammond is representative of her overall depiction of militant direct action, then the entire book is fraudulent propaganda and rubbish that the animal rights movement should dismiss as such. I have to conclude with the view of Steve Best and Jason Miller that she is a victim of the Stockholm Syndrome, given that she expresses far more hostility to militant animal rights activists than she does to the industries and individuals who breed, confine, torture, and slaughter animals for profit.

Janet Tomlinson

3. Lynn Sawyer


Lee Hall’s book, “Capers in the Churchyard,” came to my attention only when other US activists Steve Best and Jason Miller challenged it in their essays “Pacifism or Animals: Which Do You Love More?” and “Averting the China Syndrome: Response to Our Critics and the Devotees of Fundamentalist Pacifism.” Best and Miller should be thanked for bringing Hall’s book to the attention of people like me who until now have remained blissfully ignorant of this attack on particular on British activists by an American and the ongoing aggrandisement of her ideas in the United States. Much of her argument is based upon state propaganda of incidents which are supposed to have happened in the UK. She misleads not only by what she says, but also by omission.

Intrigued by what Best and Miller called a “bad” and “dangerous” (in its potential to mislead people about the character and nature of the militant direct action movement) book, I sent off for a copy and I have to say after reading it twice I personally found it irritating beyond belief. It is poorly researched, arrogant, simplistic, patronising, smug, and quite frankly the worst book I have ever read by another animal rights activist. This may sound harsh but Lee has to be challenged regarding her attacks on other activists.

According to Hall, people such as Michelle Rokke, who exposed HLS atrocities in an undercover investigation, and the ALF activists who rescued Britches (a baby macaque monkey who had his eyelids sewn together) are nothing more than a liability and “violent” because they upset the poor vivisectors. Hall seems to sneer at those who work 18 hour days in sanctuaries as nothing more than welfarists. Activists who are punched, kicked, imprisoned, and assaulted are not only architects of their own oppression but the oppression of everyone else!

It is important to question Hall because many activists in the USA appear to venerate her book, which is apparently is based on a pile of corporate lies. I was going to respond line-by-tedious-line, but life is far too short. Instead I will just do my best to counter what I know to be wrong with her conclusions and stress the fact that if we do not write our own history, people like Lee Hall will do it for us. Thank goodness for Keith Mann, whose book From “Dusk ‘til Dawn” (not to be confused with the George Clooney vampire flick) chronicles the history of the animal liberation movement.

I have no wish to criticize Lee Hall as a person, as I do not know her. But I am sure that she cares a great deal about the movement. First, let me say that there are some aspects of her book I partially agree with (for example I think that we should be professional on demonstrations and more approachable and that persuading people to be vegan is vital). In addition I completely agree with her abolitionist approach: we have no right to use animals at all and should leave wild animals be and stop domestic animal breeding to the point of extinction. But then this is the essence of animal rights believed by all animal rights activists, hardly a new idea. Even in a vegan utopia I think we should give assistance to wild animals who need it — a beached whale, for example, a bird with a broken wing, or a merciful end to a deer with a broken and gangrenous leg. From what I understand, Hall would disapprove of these acts. I think as we are (whether we like it or not) part of the natural world we have to interact with our fellow travelers. After all, whales, turtles, and dolphins have saved the lives of mariners.

However, enough people are praising Hall’s book, and they are right to do so concerning maybe 10 of the 140 odd pages. But they probably have no idea of the omissions made in its creation, which I am in a good position to address. Thus, my task here is to challenge Lee on those omissions and her edicts on how activists should behave on pain of expulsion from the movement. Steve and Jason have done an excellent job on countering Hall’s pacifist dogmas, but I wish to add some additional points.

1. Violence. Hall is opposed to violence that is very clear and this is the issue her US critics are most concerned with. But what is “violence” or “force”? Hall does not enlighten us much, but she does include shouting, breaking the law, and upsetting those who wear fur or destroy forests. This is her opinion and she is entitled to it but it appears to come from an ivory tower far away from the reality of the streets and the fields. She seems to assume that the police/courts are always fair, that those who eat meat just need a few recipes to persuade them to become vegan, and that it is only animal rights militants who are ever violent. It would appear that she lives in a different realm than other activists because we always seem to encounter some mad fucker called Jethro who is 6ft 6 (tall and wide) carrying a Chainsaw and a shotgun, whose favourite uncle is Chief Constable and head of the masons, along with all his mates …who all know where we live. Yes, Lee, you persuade Jethro that his unappealing habit with badgers and sheep is wrong by giving him a recipe on vegan fruitcake; we will continue to rely on the fact that the only reason he hasn’t murdered us in our beds is because he thinks that we will invoke calamity and woe on him and his inbred clan if he tries it.

I have just started reading Mark Thomas’s book “Belching out the devil, global adventures with Coca-Cola.” For nothing more than profit, people, Thomas shows, are prepared to murder and torture trade unionists. This is what we are up against. If a gang of thugs can go around in Columbia torturing and killing without being brought to justice (and all over the globe), the only thing that will stop them is extreme violence — NOT a vegan recipe! Would I cry if one of these vermin (who also infest Burma, Zimbabwe, China, etc. etc.) got shot dead by a would-be victim, errr…. NO!. With human rights we have much to achieve–slavery actual (as in a human being “owned” by another) and virtual (as in working in appalling conditions or facing starvation) still exist, women are stoned to death, and gay people are hanged. Torture is endemic. Where legal remedy and all else fails, violence against the perpetrators of human rights abusers is a very good option, and I think Hall might have a tough job convincing those who have saved their lives and those of their family through no other recourse than by killing a potential murderer/murderers that it isn’t.

Then we come to nonhuman victims where there is no universal declaration of rights or universally accepted recognition of suffering. If humans are treated like pieces of shit, other animals in their billions are even more at risk. Ordinary folk who are not animal rights activists do use violence to protect other species and if, for example, a group of drunken louts are torturing a dog in the park, what might stop them are several things: getting arrested (which potentially involves violence), talking to them to make them stop, or hitting them as hard as it takes — and it would not take an animal rights person to do this. What would not work is trying to persuade them to be vegan or talking to them without them feeling that they would face serious consequences if they did not stop and hand over the dog. I would want such people to fear me when I approached them, as much for self preservation as anything else. They are quite frankly scum who will only understand violence. Yes they may change. I did. I stopped hunting, became vegan, and joined the animal rights movement because it made sense, because I knew in my heart what I was doing was wrong, and because of the robust challenge to hunting made by hunt saboteurs. These sabs by the way, and those who have done ALF actions, were not horrible to me. When they saw that I was serious about changing, they were kind and supportive; they were not interested in retribution but just in stopping people like me abusing animals. And they succeeded in my case.

2. What violence? Hall refers to the incident when Brian Cass ended up with a head injury, and to be fair to her and to Cass, I do not know about the facts surrounding the case other than what is in the press. I do not trust the press to tell the truth any more than I trust Alistair Darling to steer us out of our economic recession. I can find no other example of actual violence from animal rights activists.

Hall refers to letters, stuff on “Bite Back,” and property damage all as violent. She never really refers to those who abuse animals as violent, or those who terrorise native Amazonian peoples, or the police or the prisons as violent. No, just her fellow activists are violent. Suppose someone got injured from a tree which was spiked; this is sad, but just maybe the corporation were to blame: why were they cutting up spiked trees and destroying our collective future? Some whalers got some foam on them from Sea Shepherd’s foam gun; are we supposed to be horrified by this more than the fact that whalers are lobbing explosive harpoons at sentient beings, including Paul Watson? A woman wearing fur gets sworn at; what on earth would she expect, certainly in the UK, where everyone is aware of the obscene cruelty involved in making fur? It is not as though an animal rights activist has read Michael Tobias’ novel, “Rage and Reason” (a book in which the hero Felham visits the exact same violence on people as they inflict on their victims, chefs are boiled to death, vivisectors mashed, the police face anti aircraft missiles, etc.), and then decides to chop off the fur wearer’s hands and feet before skinning her alive, a grotesque fate which she has inflicted on others, and knows she has inflicted on others, and is proud of that fact. No one would ever do such a heinous act apart from fiction.

Hall writes (page 38): “To agree with animal rights mean, at essence, to repudiate violence.” Does it? When exactly did the entire international animal rights movement reach a consensus on this definition of animal rights? I believe in women’s rights the fact that we are all equal regardless of gender, if someone tries to rape me do I not have the right to kick him in the goolies? The same applies if I come across a gay man being hounded because of his sexuality. I have no problem with calling the police to use violence on his behalf, and if they do not respond that leaves me with no choice but to do my best to help, which does not preclude the use of force. Presumably, on Hall’s outlook, I should just allow myself to be raped or just walk past another sentient being getting beaten (be that being a dog or an old person, etc.). What choice is there if someone is holding a knife to a child’s throat? If I call for police assistance and they act to protect someone they will use violence to the extent of killing someone, does it matter if they apply the force rather than I?


[From Animal Liberation Front.com: Jill’s death was not a pleasant one. Animal Friends Croatia, who shared Jill’s story with me, recalled, “On 1 February 1995 she was killed under the wheels of a truck when she tried, flailing her arms, to prevent it from taking veal calves into certain death from an airport in Coventry (Baginton). The truck driver didn’t share her opinion, so he took to death not only the veal calves but also Jill Phipps.”]

Hall omits all mention of animal rights activists being subjected to violence with the exception of Steve Christmas (a sab who nearly died after being repeatedly run over, back and forth, by a land rover). No mention of the murdered William Sweet (League Against Cruel Sports) who was shot, of Fernando Pereira (Greenpeace) who was blown up by the French secret service, of Mike Hill (Hunt Saboteur) who was crushed by a hunt vehicle aged 18, of Tom Worby who was crushed by another hunt vehicle aged 15, or of Jill Phipps crushed by a lorry exporting calves to the continent, to name just some of those now dead for fighting human supremacy. Even though Hall’s book supposedly centres around the campaigns against Darley Oaks farm in Newchurch and against Huntingdon Life Sciences, she deliberately misleads by omitting any mention of attacks on peaceful protestors by the Hall family (and their employees), attacks sometimes severe enough as to cause some activists to need their heads stitched back together.

Nor does she mention the attack on me personally, in which I sustained a smashed face and femur in a protest against HLS. Nor do we find mention of the threats, taunts, unlawful arrests, criminal damage, etc., against SHAC activists and hunt saboteurs. She does not bother to mention the fact that peaceful protestors have successfully sued the police for unlawfully abusing us by using strip searches, beatings, and arrests as “punishments” without any legal foundation. Hall clearly could not be bothered to talk to any English or Welsh lawyers (NB: Scottish law is VERY different), let alone activists, about recent events, all of which astonished me.

3. Gladys Hammond. This annoyed me more than anything as the title of the book and the cover refer to the incident concerning Mrs. Hammond’s remains appear to be the lynchpin, the main outrage, on which her argument hinges. Even if we accept everything the police and press say on the matter, Mrs. Hammond was not killed by animal rights activists, nor was she harmed. She was dead and had been for many years, the corpse was not Gladys, she is hopefully in a far better place than 6 feet under. Entire graveyards are dug up by corporations and the bodies of the dead from tombs overseas are displayed in museums, so please let us get this into perspective, though for the record, common decency prohibits to my mind any tinkering with those who are still mourned for. The way Hall writes about Gladys Hammond, anyone would think that this was the worst single outrage that had ever happened, above and beyond violence meted out against any living creature.

As such out of sheer courtesy I would have expected Hall to have contacted Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs (SNGP) and spoken to those who conducted THE TOTALLY LEGAL CAMPAIGN against the Darley Oaks guinea pig farm. But Hall could not be bothered and instead relied on a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) press release and mainstream media press cuttings.

One journalist called Nicola Woodcock (NOT Woolcock!) from “The Times” (NOT the London Times) is especially relied on as a “reference” and as many UK activists know Nicola was part of the juggernaut of litigation against PEACEFUL protest. For example in 2004-5 HLS were VERY keen to get hold of my house. This was spiteful and unnecessary, as I had virtually left the SHAC campaign, I was recovering from a third operation on my femur (smashed by a police officer), and I was physically and emotionally very vulnerable and was working as a midwife. They chose to put the boot in by a serious attempt to make me homeless and forced me off the wards, thereby leaving my colleagues short staffed (temporarily).

Other activists came to help and to minimise potential damage; the house was remortgaged to the hilt PRIOR to any order made on it. Nicola Woodcock engineered a story about me defrauding HLS after phoning me at home saying that the fraud squad were after me. They were not, and a High Court judge did not look on HLS very favourably, as they failed to gain possession of my house. For Hall to quote Nicola as an impartial source is laughable. But she does. However, Nicola Woodcock at least had the common courtesy to ask my opinion before she slated me, unlike Lee Hall who did not bother to contact any UK activists to my knowledge.

Hall indicates that the point of SNGP was to stop the supply of Guinea pigs to HLS. She omits the fact that SNGP was in existence prior to SHAC and that the point was to close down the operation regardless of who they supplied to, which is why we demonstrated at Safepharm (another contract testing laboratory). Quite why she misleads in this way is beyond me. Of course all animal rights campaigns in the UK, from SHAC to CAFT (Campaign for the Abolition of the Fur Trade), have at their core the belief that other species are NOT for human usage. We are abolitionists although again Hall for some reason tries to persuade her audience that we are only concerned with animal welfare, apparently only those who agree with her are proper vegans and liberationists.

Hall also is scathing about the “victory” parade in Burton on Trent missing the point that first of all the demonstration was already booked and that of course vivisection had hardly been abolished by the closure of Darley Oaks. The fight still goes on. A couple of pissed blokes coming out of the pub and yelling abuse before going back in to finish their pints is translated by Hall as, “locals pelted the parade with bacon and eggs.”

She then says: “And so it was that four protestors were soon charged with conspiring to blackmail the Hall family with grave desecration.” NO, Lee, if you had bothered to actually contact UK activists, instead of relying on corporate media accounts, you would have found that the 4 activists were charged with “conspiracy to blackmail” and that every single unlawful act against the Halls regarding the guinea pig operation was neatly attributed to the 4 through the “conspiracy” bit. By being part of a LEGAL campaign they were linked to “persons unknown” even if they did not know them or even approve of their actions. They were used as scapegoats and are regarded by the state as worse than rapists and murderers simply for being activists!

Let those of us who ventured up to Darley Oaks farm remember that these lovely people who Hall is so concerned about were more than happy to try and run people over with tractors and send them off to A and E with head injuries. One of the Hall brothers even talked of shooting a few activists which Lee fails to mention [see the quote above]. None of their side were ever physically harmed. Once I found a dead mouse sent to SNGP in the post. The Halls and their sympathisers were not such the innocents Lee Hall would have her readers believe. Before guinea pig farming they farmed mink. She criticises UK campaigners for not campaigning against the Hall’s dairy farming. Well there’s an idea….Dear NETCU (National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit): just remember if anyone tries it, Lee Hall incited them!

4. (Mis)Using Joan Court. Joan is an outstanding activist and has spent her life campaigning for women, children, and animals. She was a midwife in India, Pakistan, and the USA and once worked with Gandhi. I first met her outside HLS at camp Rena before the Huntingdon Death Sciences campaign evolved into SHAC. She was outside the gates of HLS to show solidarity with the 7 activists imprisoned in January 2009 and though approaching 90 is still active. Joan does not have a problem with the sort of things Lee Hall has a problem with. Quite why Hall has portrayed Joan as some sort of paragon of virtue to which her followers should aspire is very odd. Joan supported SPEAK (one of the campaigns Lee does not seem to like and whose founder Mel Broughton has just been framed by the police with a 10 year prison sentence for arson) with a hunger strike and is not adverse to being arrested. She has responded to Hall via a letter [included above] and we hope that Hall can answer her questions.

Joan does not want to be the goody to the ALF activist baddy. She is embarrassed by being solely attributed by Lee for the decision not to build a primate lab’ at Girton Cambridge, as many activists were involved and many activists did not stay on the legal path. Again if Hall had done her homework she would know what partly helped win the day was SHAC activists, including Greg Avery and myself, pledging to be very naughty indeed (quoting tripods, tunnels, logistics and stuff) if they tried to build it. Many activists gave such evidence to the planning enquiry, and the police, led by Steve Pearl, said they would not be able to cope, and the planning application was dropped, like a hot brick. We have our uses in this movement.

One of the most sinister passages in Hall’s book occurs on page. 117: “And what would unfold more clearly than ever before, was the terrible conflict within activism, between the hunger strikers and the body snatchers. The latter had become what they despised.”


The only hunger strikers to my knowledge, Joan’s knowledge, and the knowledge of any other UK activist with whom we’ve spoken are Joan in support of the Oxford Lab and animal rights prisoners (mainly to show solidarity with Barry Horne or against oppression as in the 2008 case of the Austrian 10), and most notably Barry Horne himself, who starved to death, betrayed by a Labour government that refused to honour its election pledge for laboratory animals. No “body snatchers” have ever been identified, so what is Lee Hall trying to do? Imply that there is a huge split in the UK and that some “good” activists “despise” the illegal direct actions of those “bad” activists who do it? This is either ignorance, laziness, or an attempt to mislead her readers regarding the UK animal rights movement. She does so with many other matters, but I am not at liberty to divulge the nature of all of her apparent attempts to manipulate the facts. I dare say others will pick up on other areas of falsehood in Capers in the Churchyard.

5. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. The SHAC Hall criticises is not the SHAC I know. I cannot comment on SHAC USA, except to say that I know Kevin Jonas well, and he is a lovely, kind, and intelligent person. I also know his co-defendant, Josh Harper, and would say the same of him. Hall describes the USA SHAC7 as “youths,” which I found very patronising as they are all in their 20s and more than capable of making their own choices. She portrays them as adolescents trying to rebel rather than as thoughtful, adult activists (many of them college graduates) running what amounted to peaceful demos and a website. Other people in their twenties are surgeons, lawyers, soldiers, police officers, nurses, accountants, electricians, and the like; should they too be dismissed as “youths”? Apparently the evil duo Jerry Vlasak and Steve Best (Jerry once bought me a curry so really please leave him alone!) are corrupting youth and they are responsible for anyone under the age of 40 getting nicked! To dismiss the energy and courage of so many activists as nothing more than hanging around with a “ready made” group of friends, having lots of piercings and listening to crappy music is despicable. Just because they are not under Lee Hall’s leadership does not make them bad activists.

On page 13, Hall says: “It is only Huntingdon that the campaign means to disable.” Oh really? So why on every SHAC stall were there leaflets on veganism, the fur trade, recipes, and so on? Why did we include with every anti-HLS information pack material on veganism as well? Why are SHAC activists involved with other campaigns, from the fur trade to global warming? Why is it that across the globe in India and Russia activists are fighting against the oppression of other animals which SHAC has played a part in? Apparently all SHAC activists do is send threats and glue up cash machines. Well, wrong.

SHAC is not responsible for illegal activity; activists make their own decisions and act accordingly. SHAC is a campaign which deals with petitions, informing the public, organising legal demonstrations, and nothing else. The point of a focused campaign is not only to close down HLS but to draw attention to the horror of vivisection wherever it takes place and to challenge the assumption that other animals are ours to use. For Hall’s information, part of the remit of HLS is to get the most profit from animals used and abused in the meat, egg, and dairy industries. HLS in the UK even offered to induce mastitis in cows. HLS is enmeshed in all manner of abuse, counting amongst their customers, friends, and allies noted human and environment abusers Union Carbide (Bhopal), Shell (Ken Saro Wiwa), Bayer (mates with Hitler, GM, lethal pesticides etc), and Monsanto (lots of dead farmers in India thanks to that corporation’s efforts to monopolise world food production). The list reads like a who’s who of genocidal, corporate maniacs. SHAC has targeted them all. SO WHAT?

6. Depersonalising animal abusers. I agree with Hall here. Black and white scenarios are simplistic; there are so many shades of grey. Demonising workers at HLS, for example, ignores the fact that they are all complex individuals, some of them (like me) who have looked around at their surroundings and what they are doing, and stopped. Some brave individuals have told SHAC about the animal abuse within the razor wire of HLS compounds, and others have left, tormented by what they have seen. One man told me that his daughter, an HLS worker, once liberated an entire box of rats. More workers are likely to question what they are doing if people are outside the gates with placards, which is why in 2003 when SHAC held whistleblower demonstrations asking workers to spill the beans on illegal and immoral practices at HLS, banners and leaflets were grabbed by police and confiscated.

This demo seemed to concern the authorities more than any other demonstration. Activists were threatened with arrest under the Data Protection Act! Good people do go to work in abattoirs and laboratories; they become desensitised or they leave. Whilst they do that work though, they are our enemy, although we should be approachable to those who want to talk and discuss things. HLS workers did ring the whistleblower number looking for a way to express their revulsion at what they had seen. Some HLS workers, notably Sarah Kite, Michelle Rokke, and the NAVS investigator are in fact animal rights activists; another, Zoe Broughton, is an investigative journalist (the groundbreaking “It’s a dog’s life”), and none of them are scum.

On the other hand, it is just as simplistic to assume that “militants” are nasty, violent thugs. It is the “militants” who I remember sabbing hunts and helping save the lives of hunt supporters on several occasions. It was sabs who ran to rescue injured hunt supporters when an elderly man had a cardiac arrest whilst driving and ploughed into them at the Cambridgeshire fox hunt in the early 90s. When it comes to protecting life, even of those who abuse animals, even “militants” have done so.


7. Legal matters. Sean Kirtley is in prison. When he completes his 4 ½ year sentence and probation stops he is then constrained by a 5 year super ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order), all-in-all a 9 ½ year sentence. To be fair to Lee when she wrote (page 94), “There is nothing illegal about activists pressuring a corporation through emails and phone calls,” SOCPA (Serious Organised Crime and Police Act) was not in use, and Sean had not been arrested. Her comment as far as the UK is concerned is now out of date. Sean did not go as far as contacting contract testing laboratory Sequani by email or phone call. He held a banner outside and updated a website, both of which are legal; he also spoke on the phone to other vegans who became his co-defendants (they were raided and terrorized, but finally acquitted). An unknown person sent a polite fax though, and Sean was found guilty of “conspiring” with that person. Presumably Sean deserves his fate and what he did is worse than rape or bludgeoning someone to death? Well, the state believes so.

It is not just animal rights activists who find themselves imprisoned for the actions of others. Famously in 2000 Ruth Wyner was imprisoned with a co-defendant who was equally innocent of any wrongdoing. Her crime? She was the director of a charity which helped homeless people and unbeknownst to her — despite a strong anti drugs policy at the shelter in which she worked, and despite the fact that police officers were present when the “offence” happened — some people quietly traded dugs behind her back. Her offence was to “allow” drug dealing, just as prison officers, teachers, social workers, and police officers “allow” drug dealing all the time. You see there are those who hate the homeless, Ruth campaigned to help them, and she became a target. Are we seriously supposed to respect Cambridgeshire police, or the courts, or the law when such a thing is possible? It is POWER, not justice, which motivates the legal system in the UK, and to pretend otherwise is naive at best. There are many examples of gross injustice (e.g., involving the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six) which would fill several books.

Lee Hall does not bother to hide her contempt for those imprisoned for their beliefs. It seems that she believes that they deserve to be imprisoned for peaceful protest. Her anger regarding new draconian laws that are destroying what liberties we have is reserved not for those who made the laws but for those who have been imprisoned as a result of them. This is disgraceful. Hall seems to live in a dream world where the corporate nightmare will not harm her if she is non-violent. This is very naïve. Hall comments: “No-one among us can be arrested for buying eggless noodles” (page 127).


For decades, many activists have been promoting a vegan diet in the UK. The Veggies vegan catering campaign is about to celebrate 25 years of supplying vegan nosh and education to all manner of events, demos, and city streets. When they celebrated their 20th anniversary (at a private venue) the police waded in and were very violent. In 2008, when Food not Bombs was arrested for giving free food to homeless people and other passers-by, apparently KFC and McDonalds felt undermined. I have known of parents threatened with social services for bringing children up as vegan by the police and accused of not having food in the house despite a massive SUMA (a whole food wholesaler-distributor) delivery being staked up high in the larder (although this was probably a very empty threat).

I hope that Hall is very successful in her vegan outreach but if she is, I believe that it is unlikely that she will be left to continue her work unmolested by the US police state. The corporations rule, and neither Lee Hall nor anyone should underestimate their power to make new oppressive laws, such as which could include, for example, prohibiting the promotion of a vegan diet to anyone under 18. They would churn out a few doctors who would chunter on about how milk is essential for growing bones, blah blah. Also, how does promoting veganism fit in with “free trade”? If converting people to veganism is successful the state will react in 2 ways: (1) suppress, vilify, and ridicule those with the message, (2) incorporate the message into the corporate nightmare, thereby water down veganism (as indeed vegetarianism and the organic/green movements have been co-opted and diluted). My point is that we should be doing just as Hall says by getting as many vegans as possible, but let us not pretend for a moment that we will not be attacked by our opponents.

In the UK the holy trinity Hugh, Jamie, and Gordon, 3 chefs, have been trying to persuade people to buy “happy” meat. I watched with interest last year on channel 4 as Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall tried to persuade the inhabitants of Axminster that factory-farmed chickens were cruelly treated. My reaction was, and remains, that eating chickens is wrong as it means killing a sentient being for no other reason than taste. Furthermore, chicken is a luxury the world population cannot afford. However, I did warm to Hugh and his interest in welfare despite myself. I soon became shocked at the response though.

Whilst many agreed with him, others actually attacked him for daring to say that they should spend a few more pence on birds with slightly better welfare. He was a “guilt tripping,” toffee nose, know-it-all who should sympathise with their pathetic argument that they needed cheap, factory-farmed, antibiotic-ridden corpses for next to nothing! Some of them were even throwing away half the carcass cos they couldn’t be arsed to get all of the meat from it. Hugh is a national celebrity, helped by Essex boy Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey, and with all the power of entire hour slots over several weeks on national prime time TV they did manage to get lots of people to eschew cheap meat, but it is still being sold.

We have a huge task ahead of us with the vegan message if the vitriol thrown at Hugh and Jamie (who only asked that people pay a little bit more for slightly better conditions) is anything to go by. Jamie even got publicly crucified by some because he tried to get rid of junk, additive-laden crap in school dinners. Furthermore as Lee Hall rightly says, there is simply not enough land for everyone who wants meat to have it if it was all “free-range.” Even with factory farming there will not be enough for the entire world population, yet millions want a “Western” diet. The abuse of farm animals is going to rise and rise. Converting Hugh, Jamie, and Gordon to veganism would be a really good coup, and although I have witnessed them doing vegan recipes, they are full on meat-eaters who get all mushy about their sheep, pigs, and chickens, then slit their throats. Weird!

To conclude, as I could go on (and on, and on), but this is quite enough time to spend on one animal rights book, we are not to blame for our own oppression, our opponents are, and “Capers in the Churchyard” lies by omission and relies on media and police propaganda. Activists on the ground need to be free to make their own decisions about how they act. It is not the right of someone sitting at home or in an office to pontificate over activists on a peaceful demonstration who defend themselves against a violent attack.

Lynn Sawyer


Joan Court was a midwife in India in the 40s and pioneered birth control in Pakistan. She then practiced in the United States before working for child protection in the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) in the UK. She became an animal rights activist in 1978 and continues to campaign against all cruelty.

Janet Tomlinson is a long-time animal rights activist living in England.

Lynn Sawyer is an animal rights/environmental activist who has been involved in the SHAC, SPEAK, SNGP, and SSAT (Stop Sequani Animal Testing) anti-vivisection campaigns, along with sabbing hunts and anti-fur demos. She became a vegan and an animal rights activist after being a hunt supporter and farm worker. She is also a practicing midwife and a main contributor to the NETCU (National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit) Watch website which critiques oppressive policing.

Dr. Steve Best is TPC’s senior editor of total liberation and animal rights. Associate professor of philosophy at UTEP, award-winning writer, noted speaker, public intellectual, and seasoned activist, Steven Best engages the issues of the day such as animal rights, ecological crisis, biotechnology, liberation politics, terrorism, mass media, globalization, and capitalist domination. Best has published 10 books, over 100 articles and reviews, spoken in over a dozen countries, interviewed with media throughout the world, appeared in numerous documentaries, and was voted by VegNews as one of the nations “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians.” He has come under fire for his uncompromising advocacy of “total liberation” (humans, animals, and the earth) and has been banned from the UK for the power of his thoughts. From the US to Norway, from Sweden to France, from Germany to South Africa, Best shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis.

Jason Miller, Senior Editor and Founder of TPC, is a tenacious forty something straight edge vegan activist who lives in Kansas and who has a boundless passion for animal liberation and anti-capitalism. Addicted to reading and learning, he is mostly an autodidact, but he studied liberal arts and philosophy at the University of Missouri Kansas City. In early 2005, he founded the radical blog Thomas Paine’s Corner and is now the Senior Blog Editor and Blog Director for the Transformative Studies Institute. An accomplished, prolific essayist on social and political issues, his writings have appeared on hundreds of alternative media websites over the last few years. You can reach him at willpowerful@hotmail.com

Additional Resources:

“The Truth About Gladys Hammond”


Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs


Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs Campaign Film


Cruelty Footage: Inside HLS


“Response to Reporting on SHAC Sentencing”


“Thoughts on media hysteria post SHAC trial”


“SHAC Interviewed: Greg Avery Speaks Out”


“How Animal Rights Took On the World”


“Introduction to SHAC”


“Trial By Fire: The SHAC7 Trial and the Future of Democracy”


Indymedia SHAC Page


SPEAK: The Voice for Animals


Hunt Saboteurs Association:




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Demonstrations outside HLS on days of SHAC sentencing

Some of us will be engaging in legal and peaceful protests in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk on the days on which Greg, Natasha, Heather, Gavin, Dan A, Dan W and Gerrah are sentenced for conspiracy to blackmail. Our reasons are as follows:

Animal Rights
Huntingdon Life Sciences kill 500 animals every day each one is an individual capable of suffering often left to die alone and in pain when the workers lock up at 17.00 after being poisoned or undergoing surgery.
Products which can maim and kill

HLS is a contract testing laboratory, they test anything for anyone as long as it pays. According to their own website they test artificial colourings, flavourings and sweeteners, herbicides, GM food and other products, plastics, industrial chemicals, “health foods”, dietary supplements, drugs etc under the headings pharmaceutical, crop protection, biopharmaceuticals, chemical, food and vetinary. All of these products are tested on animals and if passed as “safe” will be inhaled, ingested, drunk, absorbed through the skin or otherwise inflicted on an unsuspecting public. HLS even justify testing food on animals by saying “we need to be sure it is safe to eat”, of course it would be if it wasn’t doused with pesticides, wrapped in clingfilm and packed full of additives!

Factory Farming
HLS prop up the meat and dairy industry by experimenting on farm animals to force “productivity” even further. They offer to infect cows with mastitis (a very painful condition). Meanwhile farm animals are pumped full of antibiotics and we wonder why MRSA and VRSA are on the rise! Look up http://www.viva.org.uk for information on the meat industry regarding health, climate change, pollution, world hunger and extreme cruelty.

Corporate axis of evil
HLS has very nasty bedfellows the following are or have been customers :

Bayer when they were IG Faben they actually paid for Jewish women and used them in experiments in Nazi concentration camps. More recently they produced Baycol a cholesterol lowering drug which killed over 30 people before it was withdrawn.

Roche also had involvement with the Nazis i.e Xyclon B!

Union Carbide killed 5000 people at Bhopal in India in1984 at a gas plant due to criminal negligence, the people of that area suffer immeasurably from birth defects and many diseases as a direct result. Neither Union Carbide or Dow (who are also customers of HLS and are now responsible for sorting things out) can be bothered to clear up their mess or adequately compensate their victims http://www.bhopal.net .
DuPont produced a pesticide called Benlate/ Benomyl. Not only is it toxic to the harmless and essential for everyone’s very survival earthworm it is a possible carcinogen. It caused birth defects which involved 42 babies being born without eyes http://www.pan-uk.org .

Shell poisoned land and water in the Niger Delta. When the people who faced death by pollution and starvation protested Shell supported the army dealing with the situation. This involved chopping the arms and legs off of children and lots or torture and murder. Ken SaroWiwa led the campaign against Shell he was murdered by being hanged http://www.remembersarowiwa.com .

Glaxo Smith Kline produced an anti depressant known as Prozac/Seroxat. It has caused aggression, suicide and birth defects. It is also very difficult for many people to stop using once they become “hooked”. GSK have made a lot of profit out of the misery of people who would have managed perfectly well without the drug. http://www.seroxatusergroup.org.uk .

Cargill…where to start! Involved in GMOs, closely linked to Mc Donalds they produce EVERY item of chicken sold by the “restaurant” in the UK. They have a disgusting slaughterhouse in Hereford which kills thousands of chickens every day bar one called Rocky saved by 2 brave activists from the depths of hell last year. They also abuse some of their workers who are under constant surveillance and at the mercy of gang masters.

Monsanto who would like a monopoly on world food production have decimated the independence of farmers in India who have been made dependant on their seeds at a considerable cost. This has led to suicides and hunger so outraged were the farmers that their campaign was called “cremate Monsanto”. Monsanto’s GM crops infest conventional crops and they have even charged farmers for using their technology when this infestation occurs! No-one knows what the long term impact on our health will be, we have no say in the matter.

Please log on to http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk for more information on HLS, The above companies and many others with highly incestuous links to one another in their greedy quest for profit above all else. Those individuals within each company who make decisions which have caused extreme suffering and death will never face prison, unfortunately.

Human Rights
We will be present to show solidarity with the 7 people to be sentenced and all those imprisoned for their beliefs. The 7 have been found guilty of conspiracy to blackmail because they were part of a campaign which is legal but persons unknown have carried out illegal acts separate from that campaign. In a nutshell this means now that any effective campaign could be at risk if someone does something illegal separate from that campaign, effectively known campaigners are potentially responsible for the actions of people they do not know which they may not even agree with or have any knowledge of. For example Dr Simon Festing of the Research Defence Society (apologists for all animal testing ) was involved in the campaign against the Newbury by-pass which involved illegal (albeit moral) acts including arson and blockading workers in which he did not exactly condemn as a spokesman for Friends of the Earth and nor should he have done. However the police could theoretically as a result of this verdict arrest Dr Festing on the grounds that he as a known activist conspired with persons unknown to burn bulldozers to a frazzle thus “blackmailing” the road builders. Something for Simon to think about before he pontificates any further on SHAC. Hypocrisy…it’s a terrible thing.

Police Oppression
NETCU are based in Huntingdon, (Cambridgeshire Police HQ is just off Hinchingbrooke Park Road) and as all grass roots activists are aware this bunch exist primarily to stop all actions legal or otherwise. The way in which the police bullied and harassed peaceful campaigners and locals at Climate Camp in 2008 is partly down to NETCU and putting above all else their desire to keep protest to letter writing or police approved demos with police approved banners and leaflets on issues that do not upset anyone. We intend to make it very clear that we are not intimidated by them by holding demonstrations on their home turf on the day of sentencing.

The Plan

19th January 2009

07.00-11.00 Activists will be at Harlan near Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon. This is where beagles are bred for laboratories including HLS they can be heard from the road. It is on the B1090 look for the razor wire. Head out of Huntingdon on the A141 towards March at the Texaco garage on the roundabout follow the 141 left to another roundabout, turn left onto the 1090 Harlan is halfway up this road on the right.

12.00-18.00 Activists will be present at HLS Alconbury just off the A1, first exit north from the A14/A1 roundabout.

20th January 2009

07.00-10.00 Activists will be at Harlan Abbots Ripton again

12.00-18.00 HLS Barrack Road, Eye near Occold, Suffolk, IP237PX

It is intended that at these venues protest is legal and disciplined and respectfully ask all activists to act in accordance with this. Anything and everything possible will be used against all grass roots activists on these 2 days let us not give the police or the media any ammunition or indeed the judge any excuse to up the sentences. Please bring food, hot drinks and warm clothes as both days will be long and cold.

Contact number 07914 795737

Another solidarity demo is being held on 20th January at 17.00 at Sequani Ledbury.

The cult of the killer ape

This is the year in which Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday will be celebrated and the 150th anniversary of his “the Origin of Species” one of the most important books ever written. Evolution, the transmogrification of primordial slime into dogs, cats, humans and everything else is surely proof that we are all interconnected and indeed transient as species adapt and change. In fact if time on Earth (itself one planet among billions) were condensed into one year humans would arrive at 23.45 on New Year’s Eve.

Of course some people believe that the Earth is only 6000 years old, custom made for humans with human dominion over all by divine order. We at NW believe that they are misguided and that by divine intervention or not we came out of the complex and intricate set of circumstances from the process of evolution. This seems logical and scientifically proven beyond doubt. Darwin killed the assumption that humans are divine emissaries from God as Galileo did the assumption that the Earth is flat and the centre of all things.

Logically, scientifically humans are part of nature, not separate divine entities. Whether we like it or not we are part of an ever changing process our predecessors were animals, we are animals and if humans survive for any length of time after what we have done to the planet, they will be animals too and will probably evolve into something else unrecognisable as human in the future. This is common sense, the word “animal” can be attributed to the ancient Greeks meaning a being with a soul.

Many cultures around the world regard humans as part of, not above the rich tapestry of life but for some reason in the UK it is heretical to say that humans are just another animal. Savage prison sentences have been handed out to those who protest against vivisection “justified” by citing actions carried out by “persons unknown”. The vilification in the press by the UK SHAC 7 has been extraordinary as though HLS, its customers and suppliers were innocent of any wrong doing. For those who do not know HLS is a contract testing laboratory which tests things like artificial sweeteners and floor cleaner on dogs, mice, rats, primates, fish ,cattle etc. Every one of those animals is an individual with a fully functional central nervous system, a capacity to feel pain, to feel lonely, to feel hungry, to feel frustrated by incarceration, to feel frightened and angry. There is absolutely no moral justification to maim, torture and murder these individuals.

It is galling to hear scientists talk of evolution as fact (we agree there) and then describe humans as superior to the rest of creation also as “fact” when what they are doing is expressing a personal opinion. In fact we challenge anyone to prove that humans are superior. To describe a species as “superior” is as logical as describing people with red hair as “superior” it is a nonsense and yet it is the only justification for abusing other species in the most horrific ways. We are not superior in any way, different yes, superior a resounding no. It is natural for all animals including us to include families, (including companion animals) and friends in our circle of compassion first but this does not mean that our families and friends are superior to people and animals we do not know or that others are there for us to use and abuse.

At present we kill, torture and exploit one another relentlessly and mercilessly. When people talk of humans as being “superior” do they not think of the atrocities carried out by the Khmer Rouge, by the Nazis, Polpot, Mugabe, the military thugs in Burma and so forth? What is it about crucifying another person or maybe burning them to death on a spit and thoroughly enjoying their pain that makes us superior to other animals who would never do such things? Forced child labour, poisoning whole populations with pollution, people trafficking, dropping missiles on civilians, these are frequent occurrences and affect billions. We believe that instead of crowning ourselves as deities worthy of the subjugation of other creatures that we should be ashamed and disgusted, we should only respect ourselves as a species when we have defeated the mass of atrocities we inflict on ourselves.

Of course all the other species are at our mercy and instead of showing compassion we torture, maim, taunt, kill, slash, burn and obliterate. There is no-one to stop us we are, apparently, the pinnacle of evolution, the chosen ones and because we can for example put millions of chickens in battery units we do so, say it is survival of the fittest and thus proof of our “superiority”. Of course if a group grabs hold of 5 battery egg eaters and puts them in a tiny cage for a year or so before breaking a few limbs, electrocuting them and then putting them still alive and thrashing in a tank of boiling water this argument could also be used by this gang who have demonstrated their “superiority” by subduing their victims. Actually we believe that incarcerating, torturing then murdering another creature just because you can either makes you in need of serious help or makes you a serial killer, someone who should be locked away indefinitely to protect others (we are against the death penalty here at NW).

In arguments with vivisectors and those who argue for human supremacy the argument that animals should not be afforded rights because they have no responsibilities is always dusted down. We argue that other animals do have responsibilities as is seen repeatedly by watching wild animals as they bring up their young and protect one another. We also argue that many humans cannot take on responsibilities because for example someone might have extreme learning difficulties which should not exclude them from having rights. Furthermore many people who can take on responsibilities do not, there are many throughout the world whose only concern is themselves and it is sickening to think that someone who kicks someone to death for a laugh is afforded rights when an innocent and loving dog is not. We believe all sentient beings even if they are vicious thugs should have rights regardless of responsibilities concerning not being subjected to torture or murder or unnecessary incarceration. However if we follow the responsibility argument of the human supremacist they are basically saying that humans only should have rights because we are human, this does not really make sense unless we exclude nasty people like Mugabe but then where do we draw the line at mass murderers, gang s, drug addicts, burglars, CEOS of evil corporations? People who do not pick up their rubbish, clean behind their ears, do their washing up or who scorn civic duties BEWARE!

Whilst we regard ourselves very highly and assume that we are better than the rest of creation we are destroying everything in our wake. From the bloke swaggering down the street smashing beer bottles as he walks to the animal collector who fills her home full of animals, lets them breed to then dumps them all on overstretched sanctuaries humans everywhere cannot be bothered to contribute anything to the world we live in. Billions of animals die horribly so that people can choose to eat meat, billions more die (including the human animal) because meat eating destroys resources. Millions of animals die because some pretentious idiots choose to make a statement about how heartless and devoid of compassion they are by wearing fur actively supporting the skinning alive and anal electrocution of rabbits, dogs, cats, chinchillas, foxes etc. We destroy forests, we pollute the oceans, the air, clean water, we are directly responsible for climate change and we actually have the audacity to call rats and pigeons “vermin”, the sheer arrogance of our species defies belief!

At present it is impossible to hear pure birdsong uninterrupted by traffic or look up at the stars, our quality of life is diminishing as fields are destroyed with concrete, trees are festooned with plastic and the rivers filled with assorted human crap. The average Brit is directly responsible for the deaths of 11, 047 creatures in a lifetime through eating meat, fish and dairy alone. Many more will suffer and die as people spray pesticides, smash up wild areas because they look “untidy”, bulldozer roads, pollute rivers, lay down slug pellets, ad infinitum. We at present contribute nothing to our planet, a minority of brave souls try to counter the devastation we wreck but are outnumbered and often persecuted . As a species we really are nothing but a killer ape apparently devoid of any realisation that all we do is make what is beautiful and life sustaining ugly and dead. As someone once remarked if other animals had a hell the demons would wear human faces but then we have made hell on Earth for all animals including ourselves. It is not the time to be congratulating ourselves far from it. When we stop killing one another and our brethren, when we replenish the environment, remove our filth from the seas, the air and the land, when we diminish our numbers to allow others to thrive and ourselves to live in harmony, when we ensure that every single person on the planet has food, shelter, freedom and equality, when we stop behaving like bloated obnoxious brats wanting more and more sweets that is the time we can actually have respect for ourselves. Until then we live as a mere shadow of what we could be i.e a benevolent, compassionate species able to contribute to the world as well as enjoy its wealth. We live as the dirtiest, most violent, most greedy, most hateful species ever to have been spawned. We have the capacity for intelligence and compassion and being what we could be starts with recognising that we are part of the web of life not any better than any other part. The fact that we are more badly behaved than any other species is something we should remedy it makes a mockery of any pretence of “superiority” if we cannot.

If earthworms were to become extinct tomorrow we would all starve. If bees were to become extinct tomorrow we would all starve(NB this is starting to happen thanks to humans spraying everything with extremely toxic pesticides). With bees, worms, flies and many other creatures their demise would be catastrophic for countless complex lifeforms but if humans were to become extinct tomorrow the planet would be infinitely better off. We need to eat a considerable amount of humble pie, either that or join in with the creationists, join some killer ape death cult and wait for a deity to transport us to some other Eden which we would probably defile as quickly as possible because we’re “worth it”.