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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 December 2006, 18:12 GMT
Willing to maim in the name of animals
A leading animal rights extremist has been jailed for 12 years after admitting conducting an arson campaign against people he believed had links to the vivisection industry. But who was he and how significant is his conviction?

Donald Currie, and the e-fit of the suspect
An e-fit of the attacker bore a resemblance to Currie

The prime minister will be among those who will take great pleasure in seeing Donald Currie locked up behind bars.

Currie, a 40-year-old animal rights campaigner, has been jailed after admitting a fire-bomb campaign which targeted individuals he believed were involved in experiments on animals, often referred to as vivisection.

Earlier this year Tony Blair signed an online petition condemning the actions of animal rights extremists and backing the rights of those involved in animal testing.

The prime minister has often stressed the importance of science to the British economy and in May he said threats against GlaxoSmithKline shareholders showed why those in medical research had to be protected.

Currie took a very different view.

The unemployed father-of-three was fiercely opposed to experiments on animals and detectives believe he was the most important bomb-maker within the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).

Device under car
You're entitled to oppose vivisection and to change the minds of people but you can't enforce your views with violence
Judge Zoe Smith

He targeted homes of individuals connected with Huntingdon Life Sciences, a Cambridge-based animal research laboratory.

Sentencing Currie, Judge Zoe Smith told him: "You're entitled to oppose vivisection and to change the minds of people but you can't enforce your views with violence."

She said his crimes were "vicious" and added: "It's clear that you condone the use of violence and your use of it has escalated to a higher level. You are a risk to the public."

Currie was arrested in March after two crude but effective bombs, consisting of weedkiller and sugar, were found by police underneath a car parked outside a house in Berkshire.

The house belonged to the director of a courier firm understood to have dealings with clinical trials groups.

Currie also admitted targeting the home in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, of Paul and Joan Blackburn in September 2005.

Mr Blackburn was the corporate controller of GlaxoSmithKline.

ALF claimed responsibility

A third charge involved a fire at a firm in Williton, Somerset, in May 2005, which caused 140,000 damage.

The ALF claimed responsibility for all three incidents on its website.

Thames Valley police worked with six other forces - Hertfordshire, Sussex, Leicestershire, Dorset, Surrey and Northamptonshire - to track down Currie.

At Reading Crown Court on Thursday Currie was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but will be eligible for parole after six years.

People using violence and intimidation are undermining our message and the reputation of the animal rights movement
Michelle Thew

Around two million animals a year - mostly rodents - are killed in British laboratories and an opinion poll last year suggested 76% of members of the public were opposed to animal experiments in principle.

Michelle Thew, chief executive of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), said: "We are against animal experimentation on two grounds. Firstly it is morally indefensible and secondly on scientific grounds.

"It is outdated when there are things like stem cell research and computer modelling available."

But she said BUAV was a peaceful organisation and was "strongly opposed to the use of violence" by people like Currie.

"People using violence and intimidation are undermining our message and the reputation of the animal rights movement," she said.

Animal rights fire-bomber jailed
07 Dec 06 |  England

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