Practical Issues > Action Items > Politics

January 15, 2006
Morrissey supports animal rights violence
Jason Allardyce

MORRISSEY, the pop singer and outspoken vegan, has been branded irresponsible for publicly backing violent attacks by extremists against scientists and companies involved in medical research using animals.

The former frontman of the 1980s group the Smiths said he believed terror tactics were justified against those who conducted animal experiments because they had brought it on themselves.

Morrissey also singled out proudly carnivorous television chefs Jamie Oliver and Clarissa Dickson Wright as enemies of the animal rights movement.

His comments, however, prompted criticism from organisations attacked by animal activists, and politicians who warned that any such potential incitement should be investigated by the police.

The singer, whose old band is a favourite of David Cameron, the Tory leader, made his remarks in an interview with an online fanzine called True to You. He said: "I support the efforts of the Animal Rights Militia (ARM) in England and I understand why fur farmers and so-called laboratory scientists are repaid with violence — it is because they deal in violence themselves and it’s the only language they understand — the same principles that apply to war."

Morrissey said he approved of such tactics because "you reach a point where you cannot reason with people" who carry out animal experiments. "They (the ARM) are usually very intelligent people who are forced to act because the law is shameful or amoral."

He added: "With people in the world such as Jamie Oliver and Clarissa Dickson Wright there isn’t much hope for animals."

Oliver infuriated animal rights campaigners when he cut a lamb’s throat without stunning it on Jamie’s Great Escape, a Channel 4 series.

Dickson Wright is an outspoken country sports campaigner and meat eater. As a comment on Labour’s hunting ban she included a dish of sauteed deer testicles, called Bollocks to Blair, in a recent recipe book.

Morrissey’s fanzine comments have also been posted on the website of North American Animal Liberation, a group with close links to the Animal Liberation Front in Britain.

Dickson Wright has received death threats because of her support for hare-coursing and foxhunting. She has been assigned a special branch officer to provide security advice and support. She said Morrissey’s comments would not put her off.

"He’s probably cracked from a lack of animal protein," she said. "It is a very serious business. What they’ve done to the research workers is terrifying. They have burnt houses down, they beat people up and throw acid. They are extremely nasty pieces of work.

"Morrissey is encouraging people to commit acts of violence and I am constantly aware that something might very well happen to me."

Oliver could not be reached for comment.

Morrissey’s comments follow a recent surge in terrorist activity by animal rights militants. In November, ARM claimed responsibility for two incendiary devices planted under the car of Kathryn Grant, the widow of a senior pharmaceuticals executive who had been dead for more than a year.

Alexander Grant, 49, was the former managing director of the British division of Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical conglomerate which has long been a target of activists for its links to Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), an animal research laboratory in Cambridgeshire.

The previous month, death threats from ARM forced nine companies to sever links with HLS after letters were sent to the home addresses of directors. Directors of Leapfrog Day Nurseries received similar letters because the company had offered childcare vouchers to staff at HLS, something it has since stopped.

Morrissey, born in Manchester, has been a vociferous advocate of animal rights for 20 years, even releasing an album, while with the Smiths, entitled Meat Is Murder.

While he has never before supported violent tactics, he has taken part in high-profile campaigns, including joining the Dalai Lama and Imogen Bailey, the Australian supermodel, to protest against alleged mistreatment of elephants in Thailand.

Last night David Davis, Cameron’s home affairs spokesman, said of the singer’s latest comments: "Any incitement to violence is obviously wrong in a civilised society and should be investigated by the police."

A spokesman for HLS said: "People can have whatever opinions they want, but to condone and encourage acts of violence is entirely wrong and should not be allowed in a democracy."