Blackmail 3

People believed to be campaigning to close down the world's third largest animal testing facility; Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), have repeatedly been subjected to arrest and harassment. Read more about the lab, government involvement and repression of campaigners here.

On the morning of 6th July 2012, several teams of police raided the homes and business premises of three people arresting them on suspicion of "conspiracy to blackmail", in relation to animal testing laboratory, Huntingdon Life Sciences. The person in the UK is accused of committing this between 2001-2011 and the 2 people in Holland between November 2008-December 2010. In recent years this charge has been deliberately used against campaigners due to its good conviction rate and because it carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. This is the third UK conspiracy to blackmail trial involving people accused of campaigning against HLS.

One set of raids took place in London, while the others took place at two locations in Amsterdam. Two people in Amsterdam were arrested with a European arrest warrant, and after a week in prison they were released on strict bail conditions, having surrendered their passports. They now await extradition to the UK. The third defendant, in London, was bailed the following evening and also has many restrictive bail conditions.

During the Dutch raids, police forced entry into a shared office space, removing computers, electronic devices and paperwork belonging to a variety of campaign groups. This is on top of a huge amount of items taken from the suspects' homes, which included cameras, printers, storage devices and several laptops.

On 21st September 2012 another person was also raided and arrested in the UK, but their charges were eventually dropped on 19th March 2013.

The defendant in the UK (Debbie Vincent) began her trial on 12th February 2014 and received a guilty verdict on 18th March 2014. On 17th April 2014 she was sentenced to 6 years in prison, followed by a 5 year ASBO. The extradition of the two people from Holland can't take place yet, so their trial is delayed until a later date.

This most recent case reflects the ongoing attempts by the UK authorities to criminalise and stop the effective and persistent targeting of HLS. 

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United Kingdom