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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 October, 2004, 19:20 GMT 20:20 UK
Service held at desecrated grave
Grave scene
Police called in the coroner after the desecration
The owners of a farm that breeds animals for research have vowed to keep their business, after rededicating a family member's grave.

A service has been held in a churchyard where the body of an 82-year-old woman was dug up this month.

Gladys Hammond's body was thought to have been taken by animal rights extremists because of her family's links to the farm.

One of the owners told the BBC there is no reason to give up the business.

Why should we give up a legal licensed business because some people don't like it?
John Hall
Farm owner
Mrs Hammond's remains have not been recovered. Two men have been arrested and released on police bail.

Around 450 people attended Saturday's rededication and candlelit service at the churchyard of St Peter's in Yoxhall, Staffordshire.

The vicar of Yoxall, the Rev Jenny Lister, said the ceremony was designed to bring back a sense of peace and sanctity to the churchyard.

The bishop of Wolverhampton, the Rt Revd Michael Bourke, blessed the graveyard and a flower was placed on each grave.

"What has happened this week was a shocking and repulsive attack on all that the churchyard stands for as a holy place," he told the congregation.

"But it does not and cannot disturb the repose of the souls of those whose resting place has been disturbed."


Police had been out in force to deter protesters from disturbing the service.

The Darley Oaks Farm, in nearby Newchurch, breeds guinea pigs for use in medical research and has been the scene of regular protests over the last five years.

The farm is run by Mrs Hammond's son-in-law Christopher Hall, who did not attend the service, and his brother John.

Gladys Hammond
The remains were disturbed seven years after Mrs Hammond's death
John Hall has told the BBC's Inside Out programme the family plans to keep the business running.

"We are not monsters and none of our staff are monsters, we are just ordinary people doing a job that some people don't like," he said.

"The animal rights fraternity claim that we ritually abuse animals for our own pleasure. I can assure you that doesn't happen.

"Why should we give up a legal licensed business, that is run in a proper manner and is overseen by the Home Office, because some people don't like it?"

He also describes the effects of the long-running protests that have targeted the farm.

"Around the garden and house area we've had to erect a security fence and there are dogs running free here. We also have CCTV and employ private security to ensure we can get some sleep at night," he said.

Protesters are also interviewed in the programme, which will be broadcast in the West Midlands on BBC One on Monday night.

Campaigner slams grave attack
15 Oct 04  |  Staffordshire
Animal group condemn grave attack
13 Oct 04  |  Staffordshire

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