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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 December, 2004, 17:22 GMT
Village exclusion zone bid fails
Darley Oaks Farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire.
The Halls' farm in Newchurch has been targeted
Residents of seven villages and a farm which breeds guinea pigs for medical research have failed in a bid for a large exclusion zone around the area.

But a High Court judge has imposed a smaller zone preventing animal rights activists from harassing them.

The zone they had asked for would have covered an area of 11.5 square miles (30 sq km) in rural Staffordshire.

Instead a zone of 100 yards around the farm and the homes of the owners' relatives was granted.

'Sinister criminal element'

The body of Gladys Hammond, 82, whose son-in-law helps to run a farm breeding guinea pigs for medical research, was removed from a grave in Yoxall in October.

A 62-year-old woman was arrested and bailed on Thursday by detectives investigating the incident.

Two men, aged 41 and 34, remain on police bail after being arrested on 14 October.

Mrs Hammond's son-in-law Chris Hall breeds guinea pigs for medical research with his brother John at Darley Oaks Farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire.

The family have been subjected to a long-running campaign by animal rights activists, suffering hate mail, malicious phone calls, hoax bombs, a paedophile smear campaign and arson attacks, the court heard.

It was told the campaign included "a very sinister criminal element", by Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden, QC.

The case was brought under the Protection from Harassment Act against various individuals and organisations, including Save Newchurch Guinea Pigs, SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty), Speak Campaigns, and the Animal Liberation Front.

'Peaceful protest'

Three individual defendants - John Curtin, Amanda King and Kevin White - were present in court.

The move for a protest-free zone follows similar court action by Oxford University and Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Speaking ahead of the hearing, Peter Clamp, 50, who is seeking an injunction on behalf of the villagers, said he had been prompted to pursue an injunction following the desecration of Mrs Hammond's grave.

Simon Dally, QC, who is representing the animal activists, said it would be wrong to "tar everyone with the same brush" by banning peaceful campaigners because of the unlawful activities of other activists.

Mr Dally added that the police had permitted peaceful protests to take place outside Darley Oaks farm every Sunday and Wednesday for the past five years.

University wins animal rights bid
10 Nov 04 |  Oxfordshire
Police warning over farm protests
23 Oct 04 |  Staffordshire
Activists urged to stop protests
20 Oct 04 |  Staffordshire
Letters sent over missing remains
18 Oct 04 |  Staffordshire

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