Page last updated at 15:50 GMT, Saturday, 24 January 2009

Extremists blamed for cars attack

Anne Hawkesworth
Anne Hawkesworth says she will now step up her personal security

Animal rights extremists have been blamed for a paint stripper attack which badly damaged two cars at the home of a Bradford councillor.

Anne Hawkesworth believes she was targeted because she backs the return of grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor.

Police are investigating the incident and Mrs Hawkesworth said security would be stepped up at her home in Ilkley.

"I was extremely shocked," she said. "It was quite startling that something can come so close to your home."

West Yorkshire Police confirmed they were investigating the incident but could not yet link it to any animal rights organisation.

Nobody has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

Certain measures will have to be taken to protect our property and to protect me
Anne Hawkesworth, Bradford councillor

Mrs Hawkesworth said one of the cars attacked was so badly damaged it would have to be written off and the other was now being repaired.

The attack put the Vauxhall Tigra and Vauxhall Astra cars out of action when she needed to get to a crucial meeting in Wakefield.

"As it happens I was on my way to an extremely important meeting where we were arguing for 35.5m of funding for road improvements in Bradford and there I was with two cars trashed in the drive," she explained.

"When an elected representative is doing the work that we have to do and this sort of thing happens, it quite knocks you back.

"It leaves a nasty, nasty taste in your mouth.

"Certain measures will have to be taken to protect our property and to protect me."

She said that when animal rights activists demonstrated at her surgery in Ilkley three months ago, she was protected by eight police officers and two personal bodyguards.

She said her support of grouse shooting was based on advice from council officers who said it was "the best thing to do for Ilkley Moor".

Mrs Hawkesworth, who is Bradford council's executive member for the environment, added: "I want to make sure Ilkley Moor thrives and remains the beautiful place it is."

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