Seven Animal Rights Activists Found Guilty of Blackmail

British activists may receive up to 14-year jail sentences for blackmail and conspiracy to blackmail executives of and suppliers to Huntingdon Life Sciences, a company notorious for testing on animals. Three of them pled guilty to conspiracy charges, while four others denied the charges and were found guilty of conspiracy. One person was cleared.

They were all members of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, an organization known for using radical tactics and threats. The organization has been known to send fake bombs and needles claiming to be contaminated with AIDS to employees of HLS and companies that do business with them.

Other tactics SHAC allegedly engaged included threatening phone calls and letters and vandalism to force companies to cease doing business with HLS. While even to some animal rights activists the six year campaign pushed the limit, it can not be denied that is has yielded results. SHAC has caused other animal testing labs to shut down and created so much bad press for HLS that they are practically unable to obtain new bank loans.


SHAC is being used interchangeably with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) in much of the media, though SHAC is a separate organization. Speaking about SHAC’s actions, a law official in the UK said “The ALF is simply a name given to criminal behaviour. There [are] no rules of membership.”

This is simply not true. While the ALF is a loose organization that encourages supporters to perform direct action under their name, they have five guidelines which any action claimed by the ALF must adhere to. While they make it clear that they oppose killing any animal, human or non-human, SHAC has not eliminated that possibility.

Regardless of what one might think of these tactics, note that SHAC has not once followed through with a violent threat. Huntingdon Life Sciences continues to torture primates in the name of scientific research while seven activists are almost guaranteed jail time for sending packages and spreading pamphlets. Who are the real criminals?

Photo Credit: GreenIsTheNewRed on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

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