Animal Rights and Other Protest Cases
The firm is regularly asked to represent persons accused of committing offences in relation to animal rights protests and campaigns. Such offences can range from relatively minor public order cases tried in the Magistrates Court to serious criminal offences which can only be tried in the Crown Court and which attract very lengthy sentences. Tim Greene has been acting for animal rights demonstrators for many years and is one of the country's leading experts in this area of law.
In recent years the interest of the Government in those who actively object to the abuse of animals in research has increased significantly. In 2005 the Government created several new offences in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. Such offences include harassment in relation to such protests, intimidation of persons connected to animal research organisations and interference with the contractual relationships of animal research organisations.
We have been involved in the first prosecutions under the new Act. We recently represented a woman accused of a conspiracy to interfere with the contractual relationships of Sequani (an animal research organisation) before the Birmingham Crown Court. Our client was acquitted following an 18 week trial. This case fell under the VHCC regime. She was represented at trial by two of our solicitor advocates, Tim Greene and Paul Morgan, while Steven Bird undertook the case preparation.
We act for a number of defendants accused in two linked trials of conspiracy to blackmail companies trading with Huntingdon Life Sciences. The case attracted nationwide publicity. There is now to be a third trial and we are acting for all three of the defendants involved in that case which is at a very early stage. The first two cases fell under the VHCC regime.
We successfully defended a number of people accused of harassment involving protests outside fur shops in central London. This was the first prosecution under the new harassment provisions brought in by SOCPA 2005.
We are also represented a man accused of conspiracy to commit arson in relation to the campaign against the University of Oxford's new animal research facility. We challenged Low Template DNA in this case which was re-tried in early 2009 following a hung jury (and an acquittal on one charge) at the first trial. He was convicted on re-trial but that conviction overturned on appeal. Unfortunately the subsequent further re-trial also ended in conviction.
Such prosecutions have political overtones and often involve large numbers of defendants which can make the trials lengthy and complex both in relation to the applicable law and the large amount of documentation produced by such lengthy police investigations.
The firm has acted and continues to act for individuals protesting in relation to campaigns against vivisection, the export and import of live animals, the fur industry and the most recent badger cull. These campaigns are run by such varied organisations as Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty ("SHAC"), Stop Sequani Animal Testing ("SSAT"), SPEAK and the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade ("CAFT").
Other Protest cases
We have also acted in numerous other "protest" cases. We acted for 25 of the 35 people arrested at the protest against the forcible eviction of a group of travellers from the Dale Farm site in Basildon in October 2011. Very few of these cases ended with any conviction.
We also acted for protestors involved in the Drax power station protest whereby a train delivering coal to Drax was intercepted and taken over by protestors.
We acted for an individual arrested during the student demonstrations of 2010 in London and for two defendants in a large violent disorder trial which came about from an incident during an anti-fascist demonstration in south east London. Both were acquitted.
We also acted for an individual arrested in 2012 at an Occupy demonstration which again ended without conviction.