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Last Updated: Friday, 8 October, 2004, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Villagers targeted in four-year campaign
Grave scene
MP Michael Fabricant has linked a desecration with animal extremists
"They come in balaclavas. They throw bricks through your windows. It is pure and simple terrorism."

A resident of Newborough in Staffordshire describes the impact of a long-running campaign, which police have blamed on animal rights extremists.

They say protesters have been targeting people connected with David Hall and Partners, a business that breeds guinea pigs for animal research at nearby Darley Oaks Farm.

The 70-year-old woman, who did not want to be named, told BBC Radio 4's Face the Facts how animal rights extremists have been making life a misery for many residents.

Security measures

"They come in the middle of the night. They bang, they shout, they throw bricks through your windows doors, bricks through your doors.

"You don't want to go to bed at night in case they are going to come. You live from day to day in terror."

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant has no doubt that the four-year campaign has taken its most sinister twist, as it emerged that the remains of an 87-year-old woman have been disturbed in a nearby churchyard.

Nick Saunders
They leafleted our village to say I was a convicted paedophile
Nick Saunders

The grave of Gladys Hammond, a relative of the Halls, was found disturbed at St Peter's Church in nearby Yoxall on Thursday.

"This is the culmination of a whole series of incidents affecting the Hall family and local villagers," Mr Fabricant said.

Nick Saunders worked as a farmhand for the Halls, who have been breeding guinea pigs for 30 years.

He said he has had nothing to do with the breeding in his 13 years at the farm, but said that has not prevented him from becoming a target.

"They (the activists) leafleted our village to say I was a convicted paedophile," he said.

"I've had my windows smashed. I've had devices left under my car."

Darley Oaks Farm

Mr Saunders now has sensors in his garden and a CCTV camera protecting his home.

His mother-in-law said she had received a series of letters wrongly accusing her of a sexual assault and of pushing a baby out of its pushchair.

Extremists have also been blamed for cutting off electricity supplies and digging up a nearby golf course where breeder John Hall used to be a member.

And the couple who run the Red Lion pub in Newborough, near Newchurch, described how they were intimidated by extremists who wanted them to bar the Halls.

They refused, but were overruled by the brewery.

Mr Hall, who runs the breeding business with brother Chris, said they were not going to "buckle", adding that they took the "greatest possible care" to make sure the guinea pigs were kept in the best possible conditions.

Sgt Darren Midwinter, who has been involved in investigating several of the incidents, said: "We can assure the people of Newchurch that Staffordshire Police are doing everything in our powers to identify the offenders and put them before the courts."


SEE ALSO:
Protest 'link' to desecrated grave
08 Oct 04 |  Staffordshire
Activists blamed for firework attack
14 Nov 03 |  Staffordshire
Activists blamed for child sex slur
07 Oct 03 |  Staffordshire


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