This is a statement concerning the 2 years 8 months prison sentence I received in late 2010 for my part in the campaign against notorious animal testing laboratory Huntingdon Life Sciences. My prison licence has now ended and my sentence is now over. I’m no longer gagged by what I can and can’t say, I’m now allowed to use a computer and the internet so now it’s time to speak………

In May 2007 myself and 31 others were arrested in dawn raids around the country. It was the biggest UK police operation to date involving 700 police officers. As well as the arrests police seized from the homes computers, money, cameras, bank books, leaflets and many other items of properties. Today is the first day of my prison licence being over. I have been gagged publicly for a long time about talking about some things, so here is my chance to put my side of the story across………….

The whole operation in May 2007 was designed with maximum publicity in mind - the press were tipped off in advance and dutifully reported on the latest crackdown on animal rights 'extremism'. Almost all those arrested had some connection with the SHAC campaign and many were eventually charged with conspiracy to blackmail.

Three activists were remanded at the time of the arrests and were not released  until recently. The police operation leading up to the arrests included bugging of our cars, homes and phones. Undercover police also followed many of us around at times and they also paid a well-known activist in the gay rights campaign at the time to join us for a couple of years and report to them everything we were up to, and yes like all the recent high profile under cover agents, this man did commit offences and acted as an agent provocateur.

Due to the complex case and the amount of people involved in the case it was not until 2009 that the first trial was held. The majority of the 7 activists being found guilty of conspiracy to blackmail and two remanded already pleaded guilty. Then in 2010 the 2nd trial was held for the other half of the activists. I was on the 2nd trial. The six of us on the 2nd trial realised, after seeing what happened in the first trial, we didn’t really have much hope so myself and 2 others on the trial put a deal forward to the CPS in which we would plead guilty, but only to the lessor offence of ‘conspiracy to interfere with contractual relations of an animal research facility’ which carries a maximum of 5 years in prison, as opposed to a maximum of 13 years in prison for conspiracy to blackmail. The CPS surprisingly accepted the deal.

I was told afterwards that the police were really pissed off that I was given the chance of this deal as they wanted me for the blackmail apparently, but lucky for me and the 2 others was the that the CPS really didn’t want this to go to a big trial as it did in the 1st trail and it would have been a 6 week trial had we pleaded not guilty. The CPS had a big murder case coming up and apparently after messing up their previous big murder trial they wanted to concentrate on this new one after spending over 3 years putting our case together they just wanted it over with! 14 people from both trials, including myself were sent to prison. The prison sentences ranged from between 18 months and 11 years. The offences the activists were convicted of were either conspiracy to blackmail or conspiracy to interfere with contractual relations of an animal testing facility. As said above, I received the latter conviction, unlucky for me because every time I was asked by someone what my offence/conviction was I would have to spurt out that and then explain what it was. Of course the government rushed this law through parliament in 2005 just to try and stop the SHAC campaign activists. I received a 3 year sentence, but after appeal I got it knocked down to 2 years and 8 months. I spent exactly 12 months in Winchester prison then was released in Oct 2011 on tag.

The SHAC campaign – The campaign to close down Europe’s largest animal testing laboratory. In 1999 an undercover activist worked and filmed inside Huntingdon Life Sciences in Cambridgeshire. Lots of evidence was gathered on this vile place including video footage of workers inside the animal testing lab shaking and punching beagle puppies in the face. The video went global and a group of activists who had recently had success in closing down various animal breeding farms, including the Hillgrove cat breeding farm for vivisection in Oxfordshire, started the campaign to close Huntingdon Life Sciences also known as HLS. SHAC was  born, in the UK first, then the USA and many other SHAC campaigns forming around the world, all with the same goal – to shut HLS.

HLS is a contract testing facility. They torture and murder 500 animals every day. Animals including primates, dogs, cats, fish, birds, rodents, rabbits. Many of the experiments last months and many are the lethal dose test which involves injecting or pumping a chemical or drug into an animal and seeing how much it takes to kill the animal. These tests were carried out on behalf of chemical companies, pharmaceutical companies and also companies for household cleaners such as bleaches. One of the thousands of experiments was for ink toner for photo copy machines to be given the lethal dose to beagle puppies. All these tests were and still are legal. Over the years HLS were exposed many times breaking the law either by breaking animal welfare laws or by falsifying documents so they could keep running the same experiment over and over again and be paid by the customers for it. Ex workers would often send in info to the SHAC campaign. Workers who worked for the suppliers and customers would also often send in info to SHAC exposing the company they worked for and disagreed with. As soon as SHAC formed I straight away started receiving the magazines produced by SHAC after joining their mailing list.

Within a couple of years I had started to raise them money via compilation CDs, benefit gigs and also attending SHAC demonstrations. It was around this time that Active Slaughter was formed. In fact Active Slaughter was just going to be a small project in which Me, Jake, Trev and Joe recorded a song for the compilation I had released to raise money for SHAC titled ‘Direct Action Animal Rights’. The song went really well, we all gelled as a band, everyone loved the song we recorded so we decided to keep the band together after that.

During the early days of Active Slaughter I got more and more involved with the SHAC campaign. I ended up staying with the campaign for a few years up until my arrest after which I had many bail conditions which stopped me from taking part in any sort of animal welfare or animal rights orgainisations. Despite what the judge said during the trials, SHAC was in fact a legal campaign which campaigned legally to close down HLS. The news letter/magazine was checked by a barrister each month, the campaign received top legal information from lawyers and the SHAC campaign tried to stay to the limits of the law as much as possible and was forever changing with the law. This would be done by information stalls, rasing money, sending out news letters to the public, contacting the companies working with HLS informing them what they were doing and if they company did not cease working with HLS they would be targeted by the campaign with demos and protests. These companies included shareholders, customers and suppliers.

The campaign was of course a full time campaign for many and many of the activists involved were working on this for quite a number of years. It took 110%   dedication. There was of course over the years Direct Action and A.L.F actions against HLS, it’s workers and the companies who had any sort of business dealings with HLS. These actions included criminal damage to property/cars and threatening letters warning that more action would be taken unless they stopped dealing with HLS. This was the main reason that the government decided to take certain activists from SHAC down and send them to prison for lengthy sentences and then of course restrict even their legal right to protest upon their release with lengthy ASBOS. The direct action taking place was having a massive effect on the whole vivisection industry in the UK and this scared the Labour government. This is when the crackdown happened and we were all “taken down”.

SHAC came so close to closing HLS, even in the later years not too long before our arrests. I’m not sure people realise how close the campaign to close to closing them but a big moment was possibly when SHAC managed to get HLS de-listed from the New York Stock exchange. Another time came, in the earlier days when HLS conceded defeat and was about to close but that night was saved by the government with a massive loan from the bank of England, Tax payers money. But after this happened to them, in 2005 the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies warned the UK government that unless they stopped the animal rights activists the companies would pull out of the UK.
Two years after this threat the arrests happened in 2007 after a two year operation.

A lot of people say to me that they don’t attend protests now and don’t become a part of campaigns now due to what happened to myself and the other SHAC activists who were sent to prison for “lawful campaigning”. The thing is, is that a few of the activists were not always involved in so called complete “lawful campaigning”, Due to being frustrated by the limitations of the law on protests, quite often, some members of SHAC were involved in more ‘direct action’ stuff but most of this stuff was rather done under the name of the ALF rather than SHAC. SHAC was always a legal campaign. Do not be afraid to attend legal demonstrations. I do not want to get into who did what and when, as not everybody did and it’s not my place to say and at the end of the day a lot of stuff went unknown to the police as well as to each other of who did what.

There were also other people involved in direct action who never actually were arrested and were off the police radar and still are probably today. The reason we were arrested and convicted was because we were the faces of SHAC, we were the faces of the campaign, we were easy targets of a campaign which also included lots of direct action. Direct Action against HLS workers and its suppliers/customers included damaging their cars at night with spray paint, slashing tires, spraying painting, placing devices under vehicles at night to set them alight, painting the sides of houses and sending threatening letters. Illegal stuff also included going into Europe where many of the HLS customers are and going to their homes in the middle of the night doing home demos. Property abroad was also attacked. Rescuing beagles from puppy farms in the breeding for vivisection labs was another form of direct action, but this became increasingly harder as the years went on their security got tighter! This was just a taste of what some of the direct action involved in the fight against HLS.

I was sent to prison in late 2010 for my offence and came out on tag in late 2011. My time in prison was………. Lets say interesting! I got my head down and concentrated on education getting qualifications in maths, English and computers. I got on with most in prison and it was helped that I was with my SHAC co-defendant Tom Harris the whole time. We didn’t really let anybody know this publicly at the time, as we knew if the police who brought the case against us found out they would probably get us separated. We were banged up in a double cell together for the first 6 months, then moved to the enhanced unit of the prison for the rest of the time. We then had our own separate cells and on-suit shower/toilet room, even a key to our own cells. Yeah we were living the dream then haha. We received amazing support, getting over 100 Christmas cards each at Christmas. Friends, family and even people we never knew who were sympathetic to our cause we writing to us daily and sending us money and stamps. The vegan food weren’t that bad  in prison.

At the end of the day we were looked after pretty well inside and we got on with the majority of the prisoners and prison staff, most of whom said we should have never been in prison in the first place. I do see my whole time in prison pointless though. It didn’t change any of my views, the prison didn’t even engage with my to talk to me about my offences in prison. I can now see why so many people in prison re-offend upon release. All prison does is hold people there as punishment, there is no attempt to rehabilitate anyone, not that it would have worked with me anyway!

Upon release from prison I was allowed by the prison and the police to be released to my mum’s house for home dentation curfew. My mum lives in a town 40 miles north of London, but the reason I picked her place was I was given advice by other prisoners that you’re more likely to get early release on tag if you pick a mum to go to! So I did! I had to stay at my mum’s until I could find suitable accommodation back home in London. I had to be home every night at hers by 630pm due to my electronic tag. So during the day I was flat hunting in North London. After two weeks of being at my mums I found a one bed flat, I put a big deposit down on it and got ready to move back to North London, although I had to wait for approval from my probation, but I was told it wouldn’t be a problem. NOW this is where things change.....

Two weeks after my release I was called into probation and told that they have been in discussions with Scotland yard’s anti-extremist police unit and after discussions with them and probably members of the home office I was told that I should not had been released, I had been released by mistake on tag. They said “extremists don’t get early release on tag”. I was told that I had a choice to go back to prison or go into a bail hostel in Luton for between 1-3 months. I was obviously pissed off with all this.
I lost my flat deposit and I only was given 3 hours to get to the hostel. This was obviously wrong of them to treat me like this and they seemed to be making up the rules as they were going along but as I was on licence I had to do what they said or be sent back to prison. At this hostel I was there with murderers, sex offenders and violent criminals. Only the most serious violent offenders must go into a hostel upon release in prison………. Oh and animal rights activists it now seemed! So I was in the hostel for a month, still on tag but I also had to report into the hostel twice a day during morning and afternoon. This as well as being on tag basically had me trapped in Luton for a month. I only had an uncle and his mate who lived there. I didn’t have anything else in Luton so how this was a part of my “rehabilitation”?!

Most of my time spent in Luton, while not in the hostel, was hanging out with my girlfriend who would get the train down and stay in hotels. We spent far too much time and money in cinemas, arcades, eating out and of course weatherspoons. There was nothing else to do but we had lots of fun doing it! After a month of being at the hostel and constant meetings with probation I was told I could find my own accommodation  back in London but of course it would have to be approved by them……. Back to square one! Trev, my long standing friend and fellow Active Slaughter member offered me to stay at his flat in his spare room. This was rejected by Scotland Yard as they said he once had left wing leaflets sent to his house. Oh, also that he was spotted on an EDL demo once……..even though of course it was an anti EDL demo! And as for the left wing leaflets - the police never told me what they were and wouldn’t disclose this. We are still baffled today what they were!

So finally, after a couple of other rejections of places to live in shared houses (due to the police not knowing who everyone was in the houses) I found my own flat in North London and the police approved this. I was back in Tottenham once again, just like the old days! My girlfriend moved to London and  moved in with me as without her I wouldn’t had been able to afford the one bedroom flat after being refused rooms in shared accommodation. Scotland yard didn’t believe she existed because she didn’t have a criminal record so I had to show them her driving licence before they allowed me to live with her.

A week after going to probation in Tottenham, a senior CID officer from Scotland Yard’s extremist and terrorist unit came into probation to talk to me. He told me he was in charge of my probation now and that my probation officer would report to him. As the months went on, reporting to probation once a week, it seemed I was getting more and more restrictions placed on me by Scotland yard, even though I had not been involved in animal rights since 2007, the time of the arrests. My bail and licence conditions didn’t allow me to and also didn’t allow me to contact my co-defendants or anyone that has ever been charged with an animal rights or welfare offence.

During the Olympics I was handed a piece of paper and told I could not go near central London or any of the Olympic sites during the time of the event. I was told this was because I was an extremist. It was then just a few weeks later I was given restrictions on using a computer and the internet.
These restrictions forced me basically to just tell them I was not going to use a computer at all. I had no choice really. This screwed things up for going to college and to do computers that I had all planned out. Rehabilitation again at its worst!? A short while after after this I was told I was to do a course with my probation officer and the head of the anti-extremist probation unit. This course was called “The Healthy Identity Course”.

The course was basically designed for Islamic extremists by the government but they decided to extend this to “animal rights extremists” last year. The course was a waste of my time and probably there’s at the end of day. 10 weeks, an hour a week. It didn’t change anything, it failed to brain wash me and was a waste of money that meant to be there to tackle home terrorism right? Surly we should have been dealt with the normal police and treated as normal criminals who cause harassment, damage property and cause money loss to companies? Did it really need the anti-terrorism unit to get involved and waste time and money on us? Remember that next time you hear Scotland Yard, the government or the press say we don’t have enough man power or money to tackle terrorism in the UK – I’m really not surprised when they are wasting resources on animal rights, environmental and anti-fascist activists.

Towards the end of my licence I went to a punk gig in North London. I had a temporary probation officer take my weekly meeting with me a few days after this gig. He claims he goes to rebellion punk festival every year, loves punk and goes to Germany to watch St Pauli. He asked what I had got up to that week and as I knew he was into punk and he seemed alright I told him I went to a gig. He asked who played and that was it really. A week later the anti-extremist cop came down to my probation again. He said he weren’t happy that I went to a gig with certain anarchist bands and Conflict playing as he was worried who else would be at the gig. He didn’t want me to hang around places where “Anarchists” went and he said next time if I wanted to go to a gig where political punk bands were going to play I now had to give him the details beforehand.

My new band SLUG which I formed in Autumn of 2012 with my old Active Slaughter band mate Trev were due to play the Brighton punx picnic in April of this year. Of course after getting told off for going to the gig mentioned above I had to mention this gig to probation as it was a benefit for the hunt sabs. I was then told if I played the gig, or even went to the gig I would be sent back to prison. I was also told I can play in my new band SLUG but while on licence I could not play ANY benefit gigs. Again, just like Active Slaughter, it seemed the police were not fans of my new band. They took great interest in Active Slaughter before I went to prison and it was used in evidence against me in my conviction………… it now seemed they wanted to restrict SLUG.

During my time at probation, nobody, not even the probation officer, who done the Healthy Identity Course, attempted to find out why I offended. All they were interested in was my background and my childhood. They were trying to find out if there was some kind of connection between my upbringing and my offence. Asking what religion I was, who I vote for, if I supported the IRA’s actions (when they found out I was half Irish), what political leanings I had, if I considered myself a leftie, if I have ever been involved in football gangs, asking If I had many friends growing up, if I had many friends now. They were quite surprised when I told them I have a supportive family, loads of friends and always have done.

Not once did they ask about what went on inside HLS. Nor once did they attempt to find out any info about HLS. In fact when I mentioned Huntingdon life Sciences to the probation officer who done the healthy identity course, he seemed really confused and didn’t know what I was on about. He didn’t know anything about this laboratory or it seems my offence. This is the man who has been hired by the government to tackle extremism in the UK by working with extremist offenders and trying to get to the bottom of why they offended and to try and change their ways.

If this is the way other so called extremists are treated then I can see why this country seems to be failing in tackling real extremism. All 4 of the probation officers I had during my time on probation didn’t really know too much about my offence. They did need study my case and did not find out what actually I done. All the info they got was from the police. They were just fed info by the police and rather than treat me as an individual case, I was treated as part of a group and was labelled with the same offences as everybody else. In my probation report it said some of my offences included using weapons such as dirty infected needles and had sent a disabled man death threats, oh and that I was a danger to adults and children! I did not know anything about this stuff and I can quite clearly say myself nor any of my co-defendants were accused, let alone convicted of this. It seems they were making it up as they went along. I was not convicted of any “violent” offences.

My arrest took place in May 2007, I was on bail for over 3 years, prison for one year then on prison licence for a year and a half but now, finally, it has all ended…… well ok I still have 3 and a half years left on my ASBO, My ASBO condition states that I’m not allowed to contact HLS, its workers or it’s suppliers/customers workers with intent to harass. I have also been given a big list of various addresses around the country that I’m not allowed to go within 200 metres of.

Some of my co-defendants were given life time ABSBOs in which they are not allowed to do anything to do with animal welfare or animal rights. This is of course against their human rights and will of course, within time be dropped after their fight in the European court of human rights. My ASBO is a 5 year one and just to do with the HLS campaign. One of my co-defendants, she’s still on licence, is not allowed to live with her own dog. She has to also have a probation officer go with her when she wants to visit her dog. This is baffling as to why. It is not rehabilitation - it is just more punishment!

Myself and all of my co-defendants have had restrictions placed on us that are against our human rights. These conditions have been restricting our normal lives, during our time on licence we have just been punished more and more. No attempt has been made to help us get on with our lives, all that’s been done is the police and probation have stopped our lives moving, they’ve been holding us back from living normal lives. We understand we have certain licence conditions we had to stick to but some of the conditions placed on us were way beyond what we should have.

I’m not sure how to end this piece of writing, but I just want to say......Don’t be afraid to stand up for the voiceless. There is a lot to take from what SHAC achieved during the time we were all involved. We bought HLS down to its knees, at times HLS were ready to close. But there are also mistakes to be learned from us. The important thing is if you want to stand up for something and fight something is to learn from others….. speak to others, pick one thing you want to, concentrate on and do it! Don’t be afraid! For this is what the money makers and the powers that be want. Campaigning is still legal in this country and still has an important role in fighting injustice………. As is many forms of direct action.

The time I spent in SHAC I met some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. Most of which were not one track minded either, most of the people I made  friends with and met were for justice for all, not just animals but also for people. We now live in a society that is happy just to look after its own, its own family, social circle and block out what is going on around them, mainly due to the feeling of not being able to do anything. But YOU can, you can do something. Most of us can, even if it’s just a small thing, do something every now and again.

As for the animals, as well us being activists, getting out there and helping them hands on, one of the best ways you can help them is by going vegan and not buying animal tested products. For if we all did this there would be no need for animal rights activists and no need for people like me to go to prison for animals. Never forget the voiceless and never give up fighting for them. We are their ONLY voice, their ONLY release. I urge you all to check the website for more information about the the way activists are being treated by the uk government.

I leave you with this by Martin-Niemöller -
First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

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