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Monday, December 14, 1998 Published at 16:38 GMT


Horne recovering after hunger strike

Horne gave up his hunger strike at Full Sutton Prison in York

Animal rights activist Barry Horne is recovering in hospital after giving up his hunger strike.

He had become seriously ill, having gone 68 days without food.

Horne had been studying documents relating to the government's position on animal experiments before deciding to end his protest.

But the Home Office said it had not negotiated with him or made any concessions on his demand for a royal commission on animal vivisection.

Tony Clarke: Horne wanted dialogue
Horne's local MP, Tony Clarke (Labour, Northampton South), acted as an intermediary in the case and visited Horne in prison four weeks ago.

He told the BBC that his role had been to clarify the government's position on the use of animal experiments.

He said: "I went to see Barry in prison four weeks ago and was quite clear with him in saying that the government could not respond to the demands of a hunger striker.

"But if there was a way forward in terms of bringing some clarity to his views, then I'd be happy to do that," he told Radio 4's Today programme.

"Now, he wanted dialogue. We must acknowledge we've had the debate in a very public way and I would hope there is a better understanding of the government's intention and their desire to move forward on the animal welfare agenda."

Supporter Annabel Holt: "I'm jubilant he's come off"
Tony Humphreys, a friend of Horne's, said Horne ended his protest after the all-party Parliamentary Animal Welfare Committee agreed to look into vivisection issues in January and report back to the government.

"We're hoping that this will be a major step forward toward ending vivisection in this country," Mr Humphreys said.

[ image: Horne: Scrapped living will]
Horne: Scrapped living will
Horne has been returned to York District Hospital which described his condition as "settled and improving". Mr Humphreys said the campaigner had suffered damage to his muscles, eyes and liver.

He was moved back to Full Sutton Prison from hospital on Thursday after doctors decided that he was in no immediate danger and because protesters were disrupting the running of the hospital.

Former dustman Horne, 46, is serving 18 years for a firebombing campaign in the south of England.

Critics of the protest say Horne must have "cheated" by eating and could not have survived for as long as he had without taking food.

However, supporters have admitted Horne took sugared drinks over a period of three days during the strike.

George Howarth: "It would be curmudgeonly to to talk about what went on during the hunger strike"
Asked on Radio 4's World at One Programme whether he thought the strike was genuine, Home Office Minister George Howarth said: "I will leave that for others to judge.

"I think it would be quite improper for me to discuss the sort of information that the Home Office receives from the Prison Service about individual prisoners in public."

Supporters have strenuously rejected speculation that Horne's fast was not genuine as "lies".

Kerry Wyler of the Animals Betrayed Coalition said: "He's an extremely strong person and it's insulting to say that because he went for 68 days that for some reason he was eating food or drinking fluids.

"It's just a question of being determined and believing in what you're fighting for.

"If the Home Office, the prison or the hospital says he's been taking nutrition it's just lies."

Death list

Horne has been criticised by some animal welfare groups for using emotional blackmail.

Jonathan Owen, of the World Society for Protection of Animals, said his actions could harm the image of those battling for animal welfare by legitimate means.

Animal rights fanatics were believed to have sent a death list of 10 scientists to Scotland Yard, warning of action if Horne died.

It was believed to have included those working at the Roslyn Institute near Edinburgh, where Dolly the sheep was cloned.

Another 'target' was thought to be Colin Blakemore, professor of physiology at Oxford University.

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