Robin Webb, British Animal Liberation Front spokesman, has rejected an offer from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office that would have sent him home to the United Kingdom in exchange for pleading guilty to fourth degree criminal contempt for his actions at a Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty-organized protest of Huntingdon Life Sciences.
Webb was arrested after violating a court order that permits only 50 protestors at a time to congregate near the gate at HLS’ facility in New Jersey.
The plea agreement would have required Webb to pay a $1,000 fine but would not have included jail time. Webb told the New Jersey Courier News that he turned down the plea offer because he didn’t think he was charged with a violent crime. Also, if he pleads guilty or is convicted, Webb will not be able to legally return to the United States again.
Webb told the Courier News,
My only way of returning home, even for a few days over the Christmas period to be with my family, is to plead guilty to something I haven’t done, to something that is classified as a crime. And I have no intention of being blackmailed into pleading guilty to a crime merely to go home for Christmas to be with my family. That clearly shows the inhumane face of the American judicial system.
After he turned down the plea bargain, a grand jury indicted Webb on fourth degree criminal contempt.
A spokeswoman for the Franklin Township Police Department told the Courier News that it had videotapes of the protest showing Webb violating the court order,
We had a number of officers doing physical counts. . . .Mr. Webb did not just walk down the street to get to this area. He went above and beyond to enter the protest area, hence going over the allotted number, which they were all made aware of.
No word yet on when Webb will go on trial.
“Protester rejects deal to send him home. Crissa Shoemaker, Courier News (New Jersey), December 21, 2002.