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Friday, December 11, 1998 Published at 17:38 GMT


Horne considers ending fast

The Home Office has flatly denied negotiating with Horne

There are signs that animal rights activist Barry Horne may soon end his hunger strike.

His supporters claim he is considering Home Office documents which containing "something new" which could persuade him to end his 66-day fast.

Horne, who was moved from hospital back to York's Full Sutton Prison on Thursday night, has previously said he will end his protest if the government announces a date for the setting up of a Royal Commission into the use of animals in experiments.

After visiting Horne in prison on Friday, his friend Tony Humphries told a news conference that "Barry has deteriorated rapidly as a result of his move late last night.

"Because of the disruption and confusion caused by this move Barry has been unable to fully consider these documents. He will now need a further day or two.

"We are all hoping he will come off the hunger strike but that will only happen if the government comes up with something it committed itself to before the last election".

"There is something new now but whether it is enough to compensate for the breaking of the promise on the Royal Commission has yet to be seen," he said.

'Successful resolution'

A statement on Horne's supporters' Website said: "During the day (Thursday), Barry has been studying documents that could result in a successful resolution to the hunger strike."

[ image: Horne: Condition
Horne: Condition "deteriorated"
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.

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.

Horne, 46, a former dustman, is serving 18 years for a fire bomb attack, which caused £3m damage to shops.

'A very brave man'

Protesters have returned to a site outside the prison, where they were briefly joined on Friday by animal lover and comic Spike Milligan.

"He's a very brave man," the veteran comedian said. "That's why I am here.

"He might die. It's his choice and I respect that choice. I support the whole animal world. I am a vegetarian and I do my best not to cause pain to animals.

"That's why he's doing this and I do admire him for it. If he dies he becomes a martyr to the cause."

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11 Dec 98†|†UK
Horne hunger strike twist

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