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Sunday, August 9, 1998 Published at 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK


Animal rights group claims responsibility for mink release

Mink have a devastating impact on ecology

A spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front has told the BBC that members of the organisation were responsible for the release of up to 6,000 mink from a fur farm in Hampshire.

Robin Webb, from ALF, speaking on BBC News 24: "I have no regrets"
The animals escaped when intruders cut the fence at a farm in Ringwood which has been at the centre of cruelty allegations.

[ image: Robin Webb claims ALF were responsible for freeing the mink]
Robin Webb claims ALF were responsible for freeing the mink
Robin Webb said the animals rights group's actions were justified as the mink on the farm were all going to be killed for "fur coats that nobody needs".

He denied that the mink will destroy the local ecosystem: "As they are territorial animals, you're not going to get packs of mink running around for a long periods of time. They're not going to wipe out entire species."

Mr Webb criticised the Labour Government for "reneging" on "every single animal welfare promise" they had made.

Fur farm owner Terence Smith: "I'm just appalled"
He accused them of breaking their promise to ban fur farming, saying that three new farms had been granted licences by the government over the past year.

"The fur trade is a bloody relic of years gone by," he said.

"It should be outlawed by legislation. Individual mink have a right to life outside these concentration camp conditions."

When asked to concede that his organisation had broken the law he likened the work of the animal rights movement to the struggles for the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of women. All of these necessitated "working outside the law", said Mr Webb.

People are being warned not to approach any of the animals.

PC Rob Ellis: "Environmentally, it's a potential catastrophe"
PC Rob Ellis, from Hampshire Police, warned that other animals - including small dogs and cats - were at risk from being attacked by the mink.

"They'll eat anything that moves, and if cornered, they're likely to have a go at humans too," he said.

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