Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Sunday, December 6, 1998 Published at 03:09 GMT


Hunger striker ready to die for animals

Hunger striker Barry Horne: Said to be on the verge of coma

Jailed animal rights extremist Barry Horne says he is starving himself to death for the sake of "every animal in every torture lab".

Horne, who began the hunger strike on 6 October after accusing the government of breaking an election pledge to curb animal experiments, has told The Observer newspaper: "I want to die. This is the end. In death you win."

The 46-year-old former dustman, who is serving 18 years for a firebombing campaign, is close to death in York District Hospital after 60 days on hunger strike.

[ image: Horne wants a complete ban on animal experiments]
Horne wants a complete ban on animal experiments
Horne, who has been transferred to hospital from Full Sutton Prison, told the paper: "I am fading, sinking, going down."

He said: "It is not a question of dying. It's a question of fighting. If I die, so be it. We have tried to negotiate with the government. They have condemned me to death.

'Why do we put up with broken promises?'

"Politicians promise but why do we put up with them not keeping their commitments? Why do people laugh at politicians being liars all the time? We should be angry instead."

Police expect an escalation of animal rights protests if Horne dies.

One group, the Animal Rights Militia, has promised to kill 10 scientists if the government does not give way on animal experiments.

Dr Mark Matfield: Horne's sole objective is to abolish all animal experimentation and medical research
One of those targeted in the past is Dr Mark Matfield, executive director of the Research Defence Group.

He says there is still a case for animal testing in medical research.

'Animal testing must continue'

Dr Matfield said: "If we didn't do the animal testing we would kill an awful lot of patients with untested drugs."

Asked if he condoned violence, Horne said: "People must do what they feel is right in response to my death. Look at the evil of the Nazis and the level of violence needed - quite rightly - to stop them."

He said: "Words are cheap. Only actions really count. This is not for me, it is for every animal in every torture lab.

"We are creating a turning point - a moment in history that will be remembered. Never doubt this. We will see an end to this evil."

[ image: Rabbits, rats, cats, dogs and monkeys are all used for experiments]
Rabbits, rats, cats, dogs and monkeys are all used for experiments
A York District Hospital spokesman said on Saturday that Horne was "stable but continuing to give cause for concern".


The Animals Betrayed Coalition said Horne was now completely blind in one eye and had only partial vision in the other.

It said he was totally deaf in one ear and his liver was permanently damaged.

Horne has demanded that the government set up a royal commission to look into animal experiments.

The Home Office says it is "not prepared to allow policy to be dictated by blackmail".

Horne's supporters are staging a 36-hour vigil outside the hospital. He also receives up to 40 cards a day from wellwishers, and a Website, showing him giving a clenched fist salute, has been set up in his honour.

Slim chance of survival

Horne has issued instructions ruling out force-feeding should he lapse into a coma. Even if he resumes eating, doctors have put his chances of survival at less than 70%.

This is Horne's third hunger strike. His first strike - which lasted 35 days - began in January 1997, while the second - lasting 46 days - began in August last year.

In 1994 Horne, a member of the Animal Liberation Front, started a series of fires in shops on the Isle of Wight which caused £3m worth of damage.

He was arrested two years later by detectives who saw him plant bombs in shops in Bristol.

At his trial at Bristol Crown Court he was convicted of four counts of arson, five of attempted arson and one of possessing articles with intent to damage property.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

29 Nov 98†|†UK
Supporters rally for hunger striker

06 Dec 98†|†UK
What happens to hunger strikers?

19 Nov 98†|†UK
Hunger strike outside Jack Straw's house

08 Nov 98†|†UK
Activists blamed for meat market attack

Internet Links

Barry Horne support site

Home Office

Understanding animal research in medicine

Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online