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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 January, 2005, 15:05 GMT
Activists branded as 'terrorists'
Darley Oaks Farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire.
The Halls' farm in Newchurch has been targeted
The High Court has heard that animal rights activists conducted a "campaign of terrorism" in the area around a farm which breeds guinea pigs for research.

Local parish councillor Peter Clamp has applied for a 75 square kilometre (27 square mile) exclusion zone in a bid to stop harassment by protestors.

The court heard he had the backing of MPs and the majority of residents.

On Monday, some protestors agreed to limit the demonstrations outside Darley Oaks Farm in Newchurch, Staffs.

'Unlawful protest'

Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden, lawyer for the owners of Darley Oaks and their families and neighbours, said: "This is not a campaign of mild civil disobedience, but a campaign of terrorism which needs to be met harshly.

"This community asks this court to protect it as effectively as it can by way of an exclusion zone which can be policed."

Staffordshire map
The exclusion zone would cover seven parishes

He urged Mr Justice Owen to impose the no-go area around seven parishes, whose 3,830 households were at risk from the activities of extremists.

The parishes include Newborough, Yoxall, Barton-under-Needwood, Hanbury, Tatenhill, Draycott and Hoar Cross.

"Everyone wants lawful protest to occur under controlled terms, but they want unlawful protest to stop," he said.

However Simon Dally, lay representative for 16 individuals and protest organisations named as defendants in the action, argued that Mr Clamp had "no sufficient mandate" to act for all the residents.

He said an independent poll carried out in the area showed that some people living in Yoxall, near the farm, were against the court action, but were unwilling to sign a petition to that effect because of "village politics".

There was no formal evidence to support Mr Clamp's claim that he had the backing of other parish councillors, he added.

Limit protests

Mr Clamp and the farm's owners, brothers Christopher and John Hall, with their families, friends, employees and tenants, are suing under the Protection from Harassment Act.

The defendants named in the action include SNGP (Save Newchurch Guinea Pigs), Shac (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty), Speak (Campaigns), and the Alf (Animal Liberation Front).

Some of them have agreed to their protests outside the farm entrance being limited in time, frequency and the number of demonstrators, but they contest Mr Clamp's right to act as the voice of the local people.

Last October the body of Gladys Hammond, a relation of the Hall family who died in 1997 aged 82, was stolen from a grave at St Peter's Church.

The hearing continues.


SEE ALSO:
Activists agree to limit protests
17 Jan 05 |  Staffordshire
Village exclusion zone bid fails
02 Dec 04 |  Staffordshire
University wins animal rights bid
10 Nov 04 |  Oxfordshire


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