A pensioner has been cleared of harassing workers at the contract animal testing laboratories, Wickham Laboratories near Fareham in Hampshire, southern England.
Pauline Nelson, 80, walked free from court despite admitting the "crime" of using a megaphone to berate staff for the work they do at Wickham Laboratories.
Mrs Nelson was cleared along with Sarah Whitehead. After the hearing, both criticised the police for charging them and vowed that the extreme police behaviour would not deter them and they would continue protesting as is their legal right.
District Judge David Purcell threw out the case, brought by the Crown Prosecution Service, concluding that although the words used by the protesting pair were generally abusive, there was no evidence they had upset anyone in particular.
On May 25 they used loud-hailers to chant the "abusive" words: 'Wickham Labs – animal killers' and 'animal murderers'. Security staff filmed the two women from inside their grounds, where Ms Whitehead was heard telling staff: 'You all have blood on your hands.'
Security manager Damian Watson also claimed they called staff 'scum' and 'perverts' but the film amazingly failed to capture this, so it is widely suspected that Damian Watson perjured himself by lying to the Court.
Police officers were called and Inspector Shaun Moore, the first on the scene, also claimed to hear the abusive words. After the pair refused to stop, they were arrested.
District Judge Purcell, sitting at Fareham Magistrates' Court, stopped yesterday's trial after deciding no-one had been caused harassment, alarm or distress – only 'annoyance' or 'irritation'.
Afterwards, Mrs Nelson said: "Justice has been done. We will continue to use the megaphones and carry on protesting outside the labs. This has been a waste of taxpayers' money. It's ridiculous."
On Saturday 16th September over 100 people attended a demonstration against Wickham Laboratories. Speeches were given in Wickham town Square by Sue Dickins from the Green Party, Andre Menache, Scientific Consultant to Animal Aid, and Keith Mann, before proceeding to the laboratory where a two minute silence was held.
Arkangel has spoken to a source within the police service who has admitted that a "directive" has come from the Home Office on getting tough with animal rights campaigners, irrespective of whether those campaigners are conducting a legal campaign or not.
The main police body set up to respond to animal rights groups - The National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU) whose role is to centralise a co-ordinated response to the animal rights movement, are thought to be behind the increasing attempts by regional police forces to break up legal protest. In fact, on their website NECTU claim that one of their roles is to "deter, disrupt and prosecute..." They describe this policy as being directed against "extremists", however as the prosecution of an 80 year old woman demonstrates, it would appear, that anyone campaigning against the abuse of animals is now seen as an "extremist" by this apparent pro-vivisection police body.