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Last Updated: Monday, 8 September, 2003, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
Animal rights campaigners cleared
Three animal rights activists and a taxi driver accused of conspiring in a campaign against employees of a pharmaceutical company have been acquitted after the judge halted the trial.

Judge Keith Cutler ordered the jury formally to acquit Richard England, Lyndsey Wallace, Madeline Buckler and Mark Moore of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and conspiracy to cause fear of violence between January and December 2001.

Mr Moore was also acquitted of two counts of disclosing personal data during the same period.

During the two-week trial at Winchester Crown Court, the jury heard that Mr Moore, a driver for Eli Lilly, sent the names of 53 employees to the animal rights group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC).

Hate mail

It was claimed that the 41-year-old, of Abbey Road, Popley, acted after falling out with the firm.

Some employees of the company received hate mail, pornography, unsolicited goods and were subjected to demonstrations outside their homes, during which one was called a murderer.

Judge Cutler said that the employees had clearly been subjected to an unpleasant campaign but the prosecution had failed to show clear evidence that there had been a conspiracy between the four defendants.

He said that the only evidence against the three animal rights activists were that they had been members of or had done work for SHAC by opening PO Box accounts or completing administrative tasks.

In the case of Mr Moore, Judge Cutler told the jury that even though he admitted sending the names to SHAC it appeared that the animal rights group had not used them directly.

He said that Mr Moore had also not committed a criminal offence under the Data Protection Act.

After leaving court, Mr England, 26, and Ms Buckler, 21, both formerly of Nantcarn, Cwmcarn, south Wales, and Ms Wallace, 29 of Canbury Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, made no comment.



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