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Friday, December 11, 1998 Published at 14:09 GMT


Horne hunger strike twist

Horne had "no irreversible conditions", the trust said

Animal rights activist Barry Horne is said to be studying papers which could end his hunger strike.

The BBC's Mike McKay: Argument over Barry Horne's fate reaches critical stage
A statement on his Website says: "During the day (Thursday), Barry has been studying documents that could result in a successful resolution to the hunger strike.

"If he does decide to come off the hunger strike at any time, medical attention will need to be immediate as Barry is seriously ill."

John Pounder, a spokesman for the Animals Betrayed Coalition, confirmed to BBC News Online the existence of documents, but refused to elaborate on their contents.

He said they did not originate from the Home Office, which has refused to grant Horne's demand for a Royal Commission into vivisection.

MP's role

The Labour MP Ian Cawsey, Chairman of the all-party Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, said Horne's supporters had asked him to send information about his group and its future plans.

Mr Cawsey told them he had requested permission from the head of the government watchdog on animal experimentation, the Animal Procedure Committee, to work more closely with his own group which includes 40 of the UK's top animal welfare organisations.

This kind of information might help to persuade Horne to end his hunger strike. "If this is what it takes to get him out of this awful situation that can only be a good thing," said Mr Cawsey.

"No-one wants to see somoene starve to death."

An announcement indicating whether the information is good enough to stop the hunger strike will be made on Friday by Horne's supporters outside the prison.

Horne was moved back to prison from hospital on Thursday, the 65th day of his hunger strike.

The BBC's Kurt Barling: Police on alert against possible wave of violence
A Prison Service spokesman said that Horne had been transferred under escort at 2130 on Thursday to the healthcare centre at HM Prison Full Sutton from York District Hospital.

Horne was transferred to the hospital from the prison near York on 24 November.

Horne's condition reviewed

The Prison Service said Horne had been transferred back to jail following a review of his condition by doctors at York District Hospital.

North Of England Correspondent Richard Wells: Doctors decided there was no clinical need for Horne to stay in hospital
The service said there was "no clinical need" for him to remain in an outside hospital, taking account of his refusal of food and medical treatment.

Earlier this week, Horne's supporters said he had gone blind in one eye, was slipping into a coma and was "near death".

They told of a note he had scrawled to them from inside the hospital. "It's bad. I am fading, sinking ... Soon it will be too late."

The Prison Service said that Horne continues to be offered medical treatment "appropriate to his condition".

It added that the hunger striker had been been refusing food since 6 October but he has regularly taken some fluids.

Horne's condition is described as "serious but stable". York Health Services NHS Trust said Horne had "no irreversible conditions".

"At the express wish of Mr Horne the hospital was unable to feed or treat him and it was concluded that he could be looked after equally well in the prison medical centre," it said.

Risk of serious incident

Hospital doctors and managers were concerned about the serious disruption being caused there and that the level of anxiety among patients, staff and visitors had reached unacceptable levels.

Chief Executive Dr Peter Kennedy said: "We carefully considered all the facts, including Mr Horne's medical condition, and came to the conclusion, after discussions with the prison authorities, that he could be safely returned to the prison medical centre.

"The trust has an important responsibility to its 2,000 staff and 600 inpatients, as well as to hundreds of outpatients and visitors, to provide a safe and peaceful environment. This became impossible last weekend.

"The trust was obliged to declare a major security alert and close down all but two of the entrances to the hospital building which were then guarded. This is not acceptable. The risk of some serious incident happening was too high."

Reacting to the news on Thursday night, the animal rights campaigner's supporters said they knew nothing about the move.

Mr Pounder of the Animals Betrayed Coalition said: "The man's on his death bed and they're just accelerating the process."

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