Joan Court Goes On Yet Another “Hunger Strike”

According to SPEAK, Joan Court promised to go on yet another “hunger strike,” this time in April to commemorate World Week for Laboratory Animals.

Last July, Court went on a 48-hour “hunger strike.” Apparently she’s spent the intervening time building up her endurance to go 72 hours.

As I said last year, a 2-3 day fast is simply not all that compelling. In fact its downright lame. The poor animals are being tortured and murdered and the best court can do is three days? Come on, do something challenging like try to break Barry Horne’s record.

Now, that would be impressive, but 72 hours? I think even I could do that.

But SPEAK billed the “hunger strike” on its website as if Court were one of those IRA prisoners who used to go on ungodly long hunger strikes.

Court’s “hunger strike,” on the other hand, is a bit like having the animal rights activists lured Evil Knievel to their side only to have him announce that he was going to jump two — count ’em two — buses for the animals.


Joan Court set to embark on 72-hour hunger strike. Press Release, Speak, March 4, 2005.

Activists March Against Oxford

In late January, about 200 activist showed up to march against Oxford University in an event organized by SPEAK. Oxford is moving ahead with plans to construct its animal research facility, and SPEAK and other activists apparently see this as drawing a line in the sand — if they can stop this from being built, the activists apparently believe they’ll create a cascading effect that will bring down animal research around the world (odd — I thought the perpetually imminent closure of Huntingdon Life Sciences was going to have that effect.

Anyway, here’s a statement SPEAK circulated earlier this year about its focus on Oxford University,


The animal rights movement is on the verge of achieving a truly historic victory against Oxford University. The ramifications for the vivisection industry both in this country and abroad cannot be underestimated: it could even in the long run mean the end of the vivisection industry in this country and ultimately, where the UK vivisection industry leads, the world follows.

This Saturday will see a National Demonstration take place against Oxford University’s plans to build another animal research facility. At SPEAK we appreciate that people may have other things to do on a Saturday, however, it cannot be stressed enough, just how important a good turn out will be. For the last 7 months work has not taken place at South Parks Rd. The University has been scrabbling around to find a company gullible enough to take on the new contract.

Recent newspaper articles have reported the University as stating that the resumption of work is imminent. The tone of their statements has been both bullish and arrogant; their posturing is confrontational. It is vitally important that on Saturday the animal rights movement sends a loud and clear message to both the University and more importantly any potential contractor, that we are not going away and that we intend to fight them every inch of the way.

If we are able to prevent the completion of the new lab, the negative effect it is going to have on the vivisection industry will be immeasurable but one thing is clear – it will be a devastating blow to the vivisection industry and the ripples from the aftermath of such a victory has the potential to be felt the world over.

Last July, work on the new lab ceased, 7 months later, all is still quiet. The animal rights movement has achieved great things but we can achieve more and with a final push we can put an end to Oxford University’s goal of expanding its vivisection capabilities. Victory is within our grasp but its up to you to make it a reality. Everyone who truly cares about the plight of animals’ needs to ask themselves at the beginning of 2005: what am I going to do in order to defeat the plans by Oxford University to build another animal research centre? The animals need all of us to defend them – let’s make sure we don’t let them down. Let’s make 2005 a year to remember, a year that finally sees the demise of vivisection the world over.

Together we can and will win.

Great Britain is the world leader and trendsetter in animal research? Talk about being disconnected from reality.

Oxford University Obtains Permanent Injunction Against Animal Rights Extremists

This month the UK’s High Court granted Oxford University a permanent injunction against a number of animal rights gruops and individuals that will limit how those gruops and individuals can protest against an Oxford animal laboratory.

The decision creates a 50-yard zone in which activists and groups named in the decision may not enter, except during once-a-week demonsrations. The injunction also forbids the activists and groups from protesting or loitering within 50 yards of the premises of contractors and within 100 yards of the homes of university faculty, staff, contractors, or the shareholders of the contracts or their families.

The injunction also prohibits those named in it from publishing the personal details of any of those protected individuals.

In issuing the injunction, Justice Grigson said that the injunction did not limit anyone’s ability to express his or her views, but

What it does restrict is to whom and where he expresses those views. A similar consideration applies in respect of his right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association. A right to freedom of peaceful assembly does not entitle a citizen, by means of a mass protest, to stop the lawful activities of others.

BioMed Central quoted Roger Morris of King’s College as commending the ruling saying,

For too long resaerch that will make a real impact upon our traetmetn of such diseases has been disrupted by a few urban terrorists. It is now clear that the govenrment and the courts are standing up for human rights as well as animal rights.

Cherwell Online reported on one activist’s take on the decision,

Robert Cogswell of SPEAK, which is also included in the injunction, said that the University was attempting to “restrict legal protest becuase they don’t want to have its lies highlighted by the SPEAK campaign” and trying to smear his gruop by associating it with extremists.

He also pointed out that those undertaking criminal action were unlikely to be deterred by the additional barrier of a legal injunction.

Groups covered by the injunction include Supporting and Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom, the Animal Liberation Front, and Oxford Animal Rights Group.


Animal activists banned for good. Cherwell Online, November 12, 2004.

Animal rights injunction. BioMedCentral.Com, November 10, 2004.

Animal Rights Activists Attacked By Construction Worker at Cambridge

In September, Pauline Broughton, 70, and another unidentified animal rights activists were injured at a protest against Oxford University after a construction worker allegedly threw a white, burning substance on them.

Broughton and the other activist were taken to a nearby hospital where they were treated and released. The construction worker was arrested and released after posting bail.

Before I go any further — and there is much more to this story — let me re-emphasize my position. Violence is wrong whether committed by animal rights activists or their opponents. Those who advocate, excuse, justify or commit such acts of violence have no place in a responsible movement. As for the construction worker, if this event happened as reported, he should have the book thrown at him.

It’s too bad the Broughton and her son, Mel Broughton, do not share this view that violence is wrong. Mel Broughton is a spokesman for SPEAK and was at the protest where his mother was injured. Broughton told This Is Oxfordshire,

This is not the first time stuff has been thrown at us but it was worrying this time because the white liquid caused a burning sensation and we don’t know what it was. My mother suffered soreness around her eyes and some of this liquid went in her mouth. She is still sore but I think she is going to be okay. This will not put us off and my mum will be back next week to demonstrate. Speak is a peaceful campaign and will continue to be so — we will not retaliate in a violent way.

In fact, Mel Broughton was convicted in 1998 of conspiracy to cause arson. Broughton was arrested along with Anthony Humphries after police discovered incendiary devices in their car. The duo planned to use the devices to bomb a Huntingdon Life Sciences facility. As recently as August, Broughton told The London Telegraph that he did not regret his arrest.

Pauline Broughton is active with the UK’s Vegan Prisoners Support Group which, according to its web site is involved in “supporting vegan animal rights prisoners of conscience.” You know, prisoners of conscience like David Blenkinsop who is serving a five year sentence for an animal rights bombing campaign in Great Britain. Pauline has among other things worked diligently to ensure that Blenkinsop is able to obtain vegan food in prison. Only the best for those who commit acts of violence as long as they agree with the Broughtons.


Protesters suffer burns. This Is Oxfordshire, September 11, 2004.

Vegan Prisoners Support Group Newsletter. September 2003.

Two men remanded on conspiracy charge. Press Association, January 19, 1998.

Animal rights activists plan training camp for militants. Catriona Davis, July 29, 2004.

How Tony Blair and Labour Got in Bed with Animal Rights Extremists

Great Britain’s Sunday Times this month published a three page letter that highlighted once again how Tony Blair and the Labour government bear a great deal of responsibility for the current outbreak of animal rights extremism in that country. In the mid-1990s, while it was out of power, Labour actively courted animal rights groups, but the letter sent to a group opposed to animal experiments underscore how much Blair and others were willing to promise the activists.

The letter was sent in the mid-1990s to Plan 2000, a group dedicated to eliminating animal experiments by the year 2000. Elliot Morley, then Blair’s spokesman on animal welfare issues, sent the three page letter to Plan 2000 describing it as being written “on behalf of Tony Blair.”

The letter was unambiguous in saying that, “Labour is committed to seeing a reduction and the eventual end of animal experiments.” The letter went on to add, however, that such a goal might be hampered by opposition from researchers, saying,

The problem a Labour government would have is that there are doctors and scientists who are equally passionate in defence of animal experiments. The government is concerned that research companies may relocate abroad rather than expose their staff to harassment in Britain.

Blair was hardly the only Labour politician to try to appease animal rights activists. David Blunkett, currently the home secretary and the man responsible for addressing animal rights extremism in Great Britain, also wrote a letter of support to Plan 2000. Blunkett was also a patron of the Humane Research Trust, another British group dedicated to ending animal rights experiments.

Finally, the Times notes that Nick Brown, who was the agriculture secretary during the foot-and-mouth outbreak, told Plan 2000, “I am totally opposed to animal experiments.”

In 1996, Labour issued a position paper supporting a “royal commission to review the effectiveness and justification of animal experiments, and to examine alternatives.” At the same time, The Times notes, it was wooing the support of drug companies such as Pfizer and Novartis and, of course, once Labour was in power the impetus for creating a commission to reconsider animal experimentation withered on the vine.

Have Labour politicians’s earlier sympathies with the animal rights movement prevented the government from doing everything it can to quell the rise of extremism. Consider this from The Times report,

In Britain, by contrast [with the United States], ministers considered designating the ALF a terrorist organization, making fundraising illegal, but took no action. They apparently feared it could bee seen by some voters as too draconian.

So on the one hand, the government has so far failed to provide anything but a piecemeal response to rising extremism. On the other hand its early promises to activists followed by inaction once in power leave some feeling acts of violence are justified by Labour’s “betrayal.” Robert Cogswell, co-founder of Supporting and Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom, tells The Times,

It is hardly surprising that people are taking the law into their own hands. We will not condemn people for these actions, because we feel it is coming out of the actions of the government.

Several months ago I had the opportunity to talk with a former speechwriter for Blair who pointed to a speech Blair gave a couple years ago in which he condemned animal rights extremism and highlighted the need to defend science. But it is Blair and others in Labour who encouraged and reinforced these ideas in the 1990s and who still have offered little beyond empty promises to actually defend researchers from such extremism.


Tortured: How Labour has twisted and turned over animal testing. Gareth Walsh and David Robertson, Times Online, August 1, 2004.

Roberta Wright Should Know Ignorance When She Sees It

KVOA 4 in Tucson ran a report on April 20 about animal rights activists protesting at the University of Arizona College of Medicine as part of World Week for Animals in Laboratories.

The TV station’s web site summary of the story reports this exchange about the role of animals in medical research. Dr. Susan Wilson-Sanders, director of University Animal Care, told KVOA that animal research had made important contributions to treating diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease and that,

Well, in my opinion and the opinions of the vast majority of Americans a human life would be more important.

To which animal rights activist Roberta Wright retorted that,

The only reason somebody could be that ignorant is because they don’t know much about the unique aspects of various animals whether they be birds, mice, rats, monkeys or what have you . . . they . . . none of them belong in laboratories.

Well, Wright should certainly know about ignorance as she’s been peddling this same argument for three decades, and since 1990 with her group Supporting and Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom.

Wright is the author of a short essay, “A Tribute to Lab Animals,” which is written as if Wright were a laboratory animal,

Have you ever been in a laboratory where animals are warehoused before being subjected to experimentation? There’s nothing quite like the sights, smells, and sounds of such an environment. The animals seem to gaze out from behind their metal bars, pleading to be touched, or at least talked to. My emotions have always behaved predictably when I’ve toured a laboratory. Putting myself in the animal’s place, I visualize myself behind those bars, uncomprehending as to why I’m there. I, too, would look expectantly to anyone who came in and looked as though he or she were going to give me some attention. If I got none, I’d wonder why, and my feeling of grateful anticipation would turn to despair when the door once again closed behind the visitor. Until the next time. When I’d go through the same thing all over again. Of course I couldn’t know that there were worse things about to happen to me than merely being ignored.

In fact, that’s the good news. The bad news is the research protocol with my number on it eventually surfaces and I am led away to new sights and new sounds. I’m excited about this walk I’m now taking. After all, I seem to be the center of attention and isn’t that what I’ve been wanting ever since I was uprooted and brought to this cold, sterile place? . . .

. . .

I and many like me are whisked quickly from the room. I recognize cool night air when it hits me. I am going home! I am going to a place of safety! I lie quietly, not wanting to disturb what is happening for fear my rescuers will change their minds and put me back into that awful prison. There’s talk of “being caught.” The people who have liberated me from this agony and gloom are breaking the law! Law? What law? What law condones and protects the people who torture and maim those who can’t object? If human beings could change places with us for only one hour, would they be so ambivalent, so indifferent? Surely if they looked into my pleading eyes, they would be capable of seeing and feeling my pain and suffering. Then they wouldn’t continue to ignore my plight.

Would you?

Deep in the bowels of the institution where you now stand are more than 7,000 animals that the people who work here call “inventory.” We are every imaginable animal, amphibian, and even cattle. They do every imaginable thing to us and call it “science” and “research.” When the researchers leave at night, they hang up their bloody lab coats and brag about their “discoveries” with no thought of our suffering. We are powerless to do anything about our imprisonment. We have only you to speak for us. We beg of you. Please speak loudly, persistently, and GET US OUT OF HERE. All we have to look forward to day after day are cold bars and painful procedures. Liberation is a faint dream that seems will come only with death. Our suffering and confinement are indescribable.

When you leave here tonight, think about us. We will be lying terrified in stainless steel cages, it will be cold, and we will hear only the hum of the refrigeration unit. And tomorrow will bring more anxiety, terror and pain. Think about us. Or at the very least, please do not forget that we are here!

During a protest of a new primate research laboratory at the University of Arizona, Wright claimed that the only reason animal research continues is to allow researchers to earn advanced degrees in the sciences,

This is not about human health or curing diseases, it’s about getting Ph.D.s

And, like many activists, Wright is a supporter of animal rights violence. In April 2001, her group sponsored terrorism advocate Craig Rosebraugh to speak at the University of Arizona during World Week for Animals in Laboratories. In a press release about the event, Wright said,

Both of these men [Rosebraugh and Michael Budkie] are guaranteed to stimulate conversation and thought about why animals are used in vivisection and why they are targets of the ALF. Get used to it. Until the university opens its doors to
scrutiny, there will be an ALF to knock them down and free the animals imprisoned inside.


Illegal Break-Ins And Animal
Experiments Focus Of Speakers On U Of A Mall Wednesday
. Supporting and Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom, Press Release, April 23, 2001.

A Tribute to Lab Animals. Roberta Wright, Undated, Accessed: May 3, 2004.

Is it all in the name of science or is animal abuse?. KVOA 4, April 20, 2004.

Primate research will continue, officials say. Blake Smith, Arizona Daily Wildcat, May 3, 2000.