Animal rights activists are the suspected culprit in actions across Great Britain in which leaflets falsely describing employees of Emerson Developments Holdings as pedophiles were distributed and a number of attacks on the homes of Emerson employees were carried out.
The Runcorn Weekly News reported on one such effort,
In Runcorn, one of the worst affected areas was Norton, where posters were plastered all over a phone box ‘naming and shaming’ a local resident — a man who police stress is not under suspicion of any crime — and encouraging people to confront him with these allegations.
The police spokesman said enquiries had revealed the ‘wholly false and uncorroborated’ claims were being made against individuals known to be targeted by animal rights group SHAC — but stressed that none of those named had any connection with the animal research industry.
About the same time, more than a dozen of Emerson’s directors had their homes and cars attacked. Activists covered cars in paint stripper and slashed tires. According to the Runcorn Weekly News,
Ninenteen Emerson directors are believed to have received threatening letters accusing them of “swimming in the blood of innocent animals” and threatening “violent retribution” if the property firm did not comply with their demands. Emerson are still Yamanouchi’s landlords.
Yamanouchi, of course, contracts some animal research out to Huntingdon Life Sciences.
SHAC spokesperson Natasha Avery tried to distance SHAC from the actions, especially since there is still a legal injunction against SHAC limiting where and how it can protest against Emerson. The Macclesfield Express quoted Avery as saying (emphasis added),
There is a campaign being waged by the ALF and the Animal Rights Militia against Emerson because of their involvement with Yamanouchi. There have been a huge number of attacks, things like turning up in the middle of the night and pouring paint stripper on cards and around the place. However it is important to differentiate between SHAC and the other groups. We are a legitimate organization who only use peaceful and lawful forms of protest. Cheshire police have linked us to this crime and we are going to be talking to our lawyers.
SHAC only uses peaceful and lawful forms of protest? This is the same Natasha Avery who in 2002, then going by Natasha Taylor, was sentenced to six months in jail and six months probation for illegally harassing Huntingdon Life Sciences employees. Avery’s modus operandi there was the same as those who distributed and mailed the leaflets accusing Emerson employees of being pedophiles,
[Natasha Avery and two others produced] newsletters [that] published telephone numbers and addresses of people associated with HLS, and urged people to arrange to order unwanted goods to be delivered to people’s homes in order to harm their credit rating. They also urged phone blockades against banks and a persistent letter campaign directed at employees.
The Macclesfield Express also carried a lengthy statement from Sir Nicholas Winterton, who is Macclesfield’s Member of Parliament and a non-executive director of Emerson’s overseas activities,
These criminal acts by members of the animal rights and animal liberation organizations have been going on for more than eight months now and are quite clearly extremely serious. They are carrying out in my view terrorist acts as they are seeking to achieve political ends by undemocratic actions.
Emerson itself, the company and the group, has nothing whatsoever to do with animal experimentation. It owns a property outside London, part of which is leased by Yamanouchi. But they handle completely legal activities there. Emerson is clearly bound by a legal lease that it can’t get out of unless Yamanouchi voluntarily seeks to surrender the lease, which it has not offered to do.
The company has been the subject of many attacks. The police are seeking to do everything they can. And it’s not just the directors, even the most humble employee of the company has experienced attention from activities. Members of the company and, I think, the chairman himself have received the most offensive letters and allegations of unpleasant sexual actions.
These are the actions of terrorists and those carrying them out should be treated as such. They are extremely dangerous people and it is completely unacceptable to target people going about their everyday business. The criminals carrying out these acts should be making representations to the government and parliament. I deplore and condemn their actions against companies that bring jobs, investment and tax revenue to this country.
Campaign of terror waged aginast bosses. Macclesfield Express, September 2004.
‘Paedophile’ smear attack. Germa Melling, Runcorn Weekly News, September 9, 2004.