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back to article Organised crime law crushes animal rights duo

Four and a half years in jail for “conspiring to interfere with contractual obligations”. That was the sentence handed down to animal rights activist, Sean Kirtley, on Friday, in what is claimed to be the first contested trial under the Serious and Organised Crime Act 2005 (SOCA). Kirtley was found guilty of co-ordinating the …

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"Political Activism"?

The activities of those tossers and their like transcended "political activism" years ago. Passing laws to protect their victims was long overdue.

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Coat

Doesn't work both ways

I see from the Protection from Harassment act that,

<paste>

12 National security, etc

(1) If the Secretary of State certifies that in his opinion anything done by a specified person on a specified occasion related to—

(a) national security,

(b) the economic well-being of the United Kingdom, or

(c) the prevention or detection of serious crime,

and was done on behalf of the Crown, the certificate is conclusive evidence that this Act does not apply to any conduct of that person on that occasion.

</paste>

So the Government (or one of their agencies) can harass you as much as they like, claim it's a national security issue, and there's not a single thing anyone can do about it.

Yet if I, as a private citizen, send Gordon Brown repeated requests to resign, then I can be arrested and jailed for up to 5 years?

Nice.

The one with my spare t-shirt in the pocket please, I'm attempting to fly from Heathrow.

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First they came for the

paedophiles. but as I don't find pre-pubescent children attractive I didn't say anything.

Then they came for the animal rights protesters, but as I didn't like they way they dug up bodies and intimidated people I didn't say anything.

Then they came for the <insert latest boogie-man to erode your civil liberties here> and I realised that I'm a stupid fucking moron who's apathy has led to the greatest loss of civil rights since the Nazi Party came into power, closely followed by Stalinist Russia.

So now I sit in my barricaded home, daren't use the internet and I'm frightened to say boo to a goose in case it stabs me and then flies a remote control plane into my head.

I don't have any friends left who haven't fled the country, and someone is whispering in my ear..."don't forget to turn out the lights".

So, what nickname does this new fascist regime have?

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe they're doing the right thing.

"A much larger question is why the Government feels the need to legislate so specifically in respect of animal rights activists."

I'm hoping that their reason for this is that everybody hates bunny fascists. I'd totally vote for a party that included hating bunny fascists on their manifesto.

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Fine lines...?

> There is a very fine line between legitimate political protest, and intimidation.

There is also a very fine line between protecting people and repression.

Unfortunately this Government stepped over that line a *long* time ago and now thinks it can do what the hell it likes.

I'd shout "nonsense" but I'm worried I might get arrested as a terrorist...

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Anonymous Coward

What I think Blair did

IMHO people stay on the right side of the law, when the gap between innocent and criminal is huge.

Innocent<------------------------------------->Criminal

The difference is so large they would never jump that gap. What I think Blair did was to close that gap right down by making crimes to fix borderline problems with borderline evidence.

Innocent<--->criminal

Now the difference is much smaller, you can be prosecuted for having your bin lid slightly agar, or worse, for things you say. So you don't feel the need to stay the right side of the law anymore. "well if I'm already a criminal, I may as well carry a knife..." attitude.

Then along came Gordon Brown and we hoped for a change in direction, but no, he just put a bunch of Blairites in power. Jacqui Smith swapped things around completely, making ordinary things done by ordinary people into criminal acts without any measurable benefit. e.g. she admits to smoking pot then criminalized it... Now you can be innocent of crimes and still prosecuted as a criminal.

Criminal>--<Innocent

Things that are considered normal (e.g. protesting 'Scientology=Cult', photographing buildings) are now good or bad depending on the whim of the officer enforcing it. Of course this has brought out a special kind of 'personality problem' in some officers that has caused resentment in the public. A whole new breed of jobsworths has been attracted to become plastic-police.

That in turn led to police being despised. Now the gap is between the people and the police and as the UK law undermines the position of innocent people that gap will only widen.

Police<------------------------>public

I'm going to self sensor myself at this point and use vague words. I choose to hide behind AC status. Even then that is not enough, since RIPA lets officers obtain the IP address and communications details of ACs on a whim.

IMHO, there will be a time and place where Jacqui Smith's and Tony Blair and Gordon Brown will come to regret what they did and we'll look back on this period as shameful undermining of individual rights.

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Coat

Jihadi Rabbit huggers

I wonder if they'll get Tofu in Gaol?

It will come as no surprise that a law enacted for one reason has been used to silence dissent.

Anyone remember when the Criminal Justice Act came into force and all these nice middle england old ladies got arrested under the act for trying to stop trucks filled with livestock?

I, for one, welcome our Nu-Nazi-Labour police-state overlords.

(coat, 'cos I am off out of this shithole with my shiny EU passport)

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Anonymous Coward

A difficult problem

Animal rights activists have always presented something of a problem to the police. On the one hand, people have the right to protest and attempt to have their political way. OTOH, quite often this is taken to harassing levels by a hard core of nutcases (used in its most technical sense, of course).

Fox hunt protesters used guerilla tactics to disrupt hunts, and at least had the tacit approval of the majority. But when protesters feel they are getting the brush off from organisations, they don't stop at letter writing or pressure groups. This is where the trouble begins - with an imaginative group of protesters going about digging up peoples dead relatives, annoying suppliers and disrupting business, how do the police usually respond? "Too difficult to prove under current laws". How does the government respond? "Ah! I have a draft bill around here somewhere...".

I know the Register takes the position that the government is replacing leadership with taxation and legislation, but would they rather that animal rights protesters were prosecuted under anti terrorism legislation? Because that is the less palatable alternative.

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Pathetic

Normally I read The Reg and nod in full agreement with the scribes thoughts and notes.

Not this time. Actually, I'm pretty annoyed.

The work of so-called animal rights bodies ranges from disturbing to disgraceful. To harrass or intimidate anyone pursuing legal employment simply cannot be allowed. It's nothing more than social terrorism, and to the individual is particularly damaging on both a mental as well as physical level.

I really didn't see the point you were trying to make about harrassment either, apart from it being damned weak. The article conveniently omitted to mention that the method of communication used by such groups is not exactly walk up and politely engage in a conversation. Discussion about the ethics of an industry is one thing. Unfortunately such groups are not interested in discussion and haven't for some years.

This article just illustrates a rampant bias towards liberal views for the sake of it. Perhaps the writer didn't stop to consider that pressure groups such as animal rights are themselves hardly liberal in considering other people's views? Maybe it would also be a good idea for the writer to go and work for a while at HLS or Sequani - or a supplier to them - and discover the sort of lengths such pressure groups will go to. I was on the end of this first hand in Yoxall for just a brief moment and it's really not nice, even to someone pretty thick skinned like me.

I'm guessing that the article was trying to show that current legislation to curb the menace of extreme pressure groups is rubbish. Well it is - but you made a right it, especially with the final sentence. Pure sixth-form bilge in all it's acne-infested teenager glory.

John Ozimek, your missive missed making any good points by a country mile. 1/10, and that's generous.

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Not very Complicated

If you've ever lived or worked next to somewhere disliked by the animal rights lobby then it could be a very broad line & it's still obvious which side of it a significant minority of them are on.

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So very, very wrong

This cannot, in any way, be described as justice.

You can get more jailtime for writing letters asking companies to stop supplying a vivisection lab than you can for kicking a man into a coma in the street.

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especially loved by lawmakers

there's a history of awkward interpretations of the law - before the Computer Misuse Act, someone got done for 'criminal damage' on the basis that they had altered the position (status?) of some particles of a hard drive (in the course of unauthorised access). sorry I don't have the full details.

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Black Helicopters

Like I expected...

One more law that moves us closer to a dictatorship.

Could it be argued that a political party writing to voters to encourage them to vote for them is harrassing them? I say it could, by laws such as these. Therefore the opposition immediately becomes a criminal, and is jailed. So who do we vote for? Is there a democratic choice left....

I know we aint quite there yet, but a pattern is emerging. 1984 here we come!

Black 'Copter coz I can see one, they are coming for me!

YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALI... **BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG** AAAAARGH!

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It's simple...

... when you read the witness statements of the complainants against SHAC and the like - many of these complainants being ordinary people trying to earn an honest living, who have suffered vandalism, persecution, and physical threats to them and their families - you realise that the campaign to try to shut their employers down falls entirely into the definition of "terrorism", and should be treated as such.

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Anonymous Coward

"So was this an appropriate use of police time and resources? Is SOCA the right way to proceed?"

Animal rights protestors are on the whole okay, but they do have a hardline that do things like digging up bodies, killing researchers and the like. Banning animal rights protests is the wrong way to go, but these people were [alledgedly] committing organised criminal acts. So they should be punished.

Gotta say, though, that any group that puts the wellbeing of others first is going to use the wellbeing of others as an excuse to do things they'd otherwise have no support for. Like taxing the hell out of us "for the good of the poor" or "to level the playing field".

You ask me, their punishment should be a solid deprogramming session, then a quick run through uni so they can work as a labtech at the places they were intimidating. Or retrained as a nurse to look after those they hurt.

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Black Helicopters

Law goes further down the drain

Although I agree that the animal rights activists should be jailed, though I would classify them as terrorists, I'm not too sure about the direction this is taking the law.

Whats to stop the powers that be slightly re-interpreting the rules (as they are wont to do) and making it a criminal act (in the same tortious manner as ASBOs) to make any protest. Pro-life campaigners could be hit as they try and persude women not to have abortions. Christian evanglists could be caught if they turn up at someone's door more than once. People on strike could be jailed if they say more than a pleasant hello to strike breakers.

Where has common sense gone as the goverment try and legislate every single minute action that we might take.

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Good

The Animal Rights lot are generally ill-informed scumbags with screwed up moral compasses anyway.

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Thin end of wedge

The government's tactics are quite clear; take something most of the population (and by extension MPs) don't like, (eg, paedophilia, terrorism, animal rights extremists) and set new far-reaching legal principles under the banner of controlling these 'dangerous' people.

Once the MPs who vote for these laws have been won over (and I think this is more about persuading MPs than the population, as MPs are currently the weak link in defending human rights) then the laws can be broadened out to include any activity Brown thinks is harmful to society.

We're seeing this now with the lengthening of the imprisonment without trial period for terrorist suspects. Government 'wins over' enough MPs by saying that the law will only be used in 'extreme situations' and hey presto - a law that allows the government to put anyone it doesn't like in prison for a month and half without any real evidence.

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I agree with Neil

Whilst there are many alarming examples of the right to free speech and protest being eroded, I can't see that this is one of them.

Sequani wasn't breaking the law, so however much you might disagree with them they need to be protected from headcases like this.

You can use the "sledgehammer and nut" tagline, but this kind of stalking and generally obsessive behaviour can really get out of hand, as it apparently did for that poor girl who was stabbed in a lift London a couple of days ago. I only wish the law had been a bit more pro-active in that case.

I can't help feeling that extreme behaviour on the part of animal rights protesters has elicited a proportionally extreme reaction from society. It was inevitable.

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They have only themselves to blame

It was the animal rights activists who overstepped the mark with their ever more unacceptable bullying and intimidation so called 'protests' that created the need for this oppressive legislation. Now we are all likely to suffer under nu-labour's thought police. Throw away the key and let them rot so far as I am concerned.

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(Written by Reg staff)

I had this terrible dream last night

that I was moderating the comments on the Daily Mail website.

I woke up sweating.

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There's always someone to screw up the system

We all whinge about having our liberties taken away but, as mentioned above, is anyone really against locking up pedos? How about the muppets that think it is perfectly ok to terrorise people because their husband/dad/cousin works at an animal research lab?

The only reason the government keeps banging in these new laws is because certain dickhead sections of society keep thinking up new ways to screw things up. If they turned there talent for creative thinking into something other than lowering the bar on depravity then think what humanity could achieve.

I'm now off to shower as I can't believe I have had to stick up for the government.

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Anonymous Coward

Another poitn of view

Let me say that I'm not an animal rights activist and don't agree with most of what they say. On the other hand I believe that a lot of them have thought about their positions and have genuinely held beliefs. To call them "fundamentalists" or any other name isn't an argument against them it's just name calling.

Put yourselves in their position, if you earnestly believe that experimenting on animals is equivalent or close to murder and torture what would you do? Or more to the point what wouldn't you do?

If we chuck them in jail too readily we'll just make them fight harder, if we let them get away with things like planting bombs, well............

Yes, we shouldn't allow ourselves to be dictated to by the moral opinions of a minority, but they're not such a minority and once upon a time people who believed in rights for women were a minority.

As I say I don't agree with them for the most part but this is just going to make things worse.

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Alert

Pretty much with everybody else here

Its not like the nutter protestors have not brought this down on themselves. They have caused damage, and have more than one sucide layed at their door as well due to their intimidation tactics.

While yes I do find the Law worrying on this one, I would not piss on one of the extrme protestors if they were on fire, unless i pissed petrol.

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@Pete James

"The work of so-called animal rights bodies ranges from disturbing to disgraceful."

Really? Where on this scale does the RSPCA fall then?

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Anonymous Coward

SHAC deserve it

I take it nobody remembers in the late 90s when some of their number decided carbombs were the way to take peaceful protest?

Anonymous because I don't want to be blown up by bunnylovers.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: @Pete James

There's a difference between people who are for animal rights and those who are for animal welfare, generally.

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Overthrow the Government.

Does the title make me a terrorist.

What if I write 'Overthrow the Government' again.

And whilst I agree that there are things Animal Rights campaigners do that are obnoxious and disgusting, calling them Terrorists is not the answer.

We all ready had harassment and anti stalking laws so why do we need a new one just to protect animal labs.

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Boffin

Don't believe the short title

The short title of an act of Parliament isn't supposed to tell you everything that a several-hundred page act was supposed to cover. There is a long title for that, if you care.

The Serious and Organised Crime Act wasn't just about setting up the Serious and Organised Crime Agency and associated powers - it was also about making various organised crimes easier to prosecute, and one of those sets of crimes was the anti-scientist-animal-rights-mobs, many of whom were clearly very nasty, intimidating and certainly not peaceful protestors. That's what the law was passed for, and that's what it was used for.

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Heart

No sympathy

While some protestors are undoubtedly normal, if un-educated people, those that go around blowing up buildings, stealing dead bodies etc are simply terrorists - they should probably just have been sent to Gitmo.

Anyway, Serious - Yes.

Organised - Yes

Criminal - Yes

'Nuff said.

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No fine line here

"It is alleged that managers at Sequani were followed home and verbally abused outside their homes."

"There is a very fine line between legitimate political protest, and intimidation."

Where is the fine line here? Protesters following someone to their target's home is intimidation pure and simple. The protestors are saying "We'll harrass you AND your family if you don't do what we want you to do."

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14 million quid's worth of "wrong"?

Heck, it would be a lot cheaper to have the company pay for competent guards.

Though the acts of some extreme animal rights protesters are wrong, aren't we all told from a very young age that two wrongs do not make a right?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Don't believe the short title

Yep, and they slipped in a couple of other things about making it illegal to protest within a mile of Parliament without seven days' notice. It was used for that too.

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Flame

ref "Law goes further down the drain "

it would be a good thinbg to use this against fundy nuts and the pro lifers. I would hate for the UK to be like the USA.

The insane bunny huggers all need locking up.

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@Rab S

Well said man! I lol'ed at the pissing petrol :D

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@Sarah Bee & David

I think you're overcompensating, a little, Ms Bee & Mr David.

Pete James was calling into question "so-called animal rights bodies" that use actions against humans that they castigate as abhorrent against animals, not those organisations that are for animal welfare. There *is* a difference and I'm sure this is clear from Mr James' post.

And while I'm on a sticky wicket, Ms Bee, because it seems that many El Reg readers have no sympathy for such extremist nutters there's no need to sarcastically dub us 'Daily Mail' readers.

This discussion jumped the shark near the top of the page when Godwin's Law should have been invoked after the third post.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: @Sarah Bee &amp; David

It's less the content, more the rhetoric.

Anyway, show me where I dubbed anyone a Daily Mail reader. I was just relating my disturbing dream, wasn't I?

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@David

Sarah Bee replied before - and way better - than me David. On that point though where do you think the Save The Guinea Pigs organisation should be placed? This was the bunch active in Yoxall by the way.

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Re:"Political Activism"?

@ Neil Hoskins

"The activities of those tossers and their like transcended "political activism" years ago. Passing laws to protect their victims was long overdue."

Hang on, are you saying that there wasn't already a whole heap of legislation covering intimidation,criminal damage, assault, murder, possession of explosives, desecration of graves etc etc ad nauseum?

When they "transcended" political activism they became criminals. We do not need to criminalise political activism in order to prosecute those who "transcended 'political activism' years ago"!

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Considering...

Considering the general level of paranoia displayed in the Reg comments sections I'm surprised no one has accused the extreme animal rights activists of being in the pay of some evil government department as provocateurs whose purpose is to gain support for repressive laws. C'mon folks, you're falling down on the job here.

And could someone please formulate some law re the increasing use of the 'first they came for the...' schtick?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Considering...

Gnuber's Law? I think you can have that one.

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@ImaGnuber

"And could someone please formulate some law re the increasing use of the 'first they came for the...' schtick?"

Gnuber's Law: The first poster to quote Pastor Niemoller will be entirely right in doing so.

How's that? It's held as far as I've seen. If you were thinking of Godwin's Law, that works the opposite because 'you're a Nazi' is simple enough to be used by thickos, whereas hearing and remembering Niemoller's poem - simple as it is - requires a modicum of intelligence.

Personally, I would like the poem to go:

"First they came for the animal rights activists, and I pointed and laughed, because it's still the first line of the poem, and I have two more to go before it becomes too late for me.

Then they came for the religious extremists, and I did not speak up. Cutting it a bit fine, but I think I'll pass on this one.

Then they came for people who liked lolita animé, and I swallowed my taste and stood up in the nick of time."

Shame it doesn't work that way.

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Dead Meat

i have to agree with the comments raised here i'm one of those people that medical testing has saved and have lived a full extra 20 years thanks to medical testing...

But yes the laws NuLabour are bring out every day are becoming more and more repressive and vague, my crystal ball says that to hold all these political prisoners(?) then all the real crims will be running the streets not reading US Goverment documents or wearing transformer T-shirts.

Just remember bing drinking gives you liver failure by 60 so no pension. That sounds like a whirly bird outside i'm off.

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Out of interest...

How many of you have the slightest idea what's been going on with this case and how many just saw the words "animal rights activists" and started thinking about dug up corpses?

Bear in mind that under this law writing to Staples saying "Please stop supplying Sequani because they carry out vivisection" is a criminal act of harassment if you do it twice.

"The work of so-called animal rights bodies ranges from disturbing to disgraceful. To harrass or intimidate anyone pursuing legal employment simply cannot be allowed. It's nothing more than social terrorism, "

This is the line of thought that bitched about the suffragettes endangering the King's horse and disrupting a good race.

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Gnuber's Law

I like it. Award of a tinfoil hat to anyone who causes it to be invoked.

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@their defenders

Oh yeah its all harmless protesting, absoulty no targeting of people to make their life a living hell...Hell the last paragrah asks them to go and screw up school open days...

"Dr Sue Hughes is a senior scientist at Sequani animal testing labs. When she has not been busy maiming and killing animals at her place of work, one of her past voluntary activities has included being involved with Riding for the Disabled, quite ironic really when you consider how many times she will have deliberately caused individual animals to 'become disabled'.

One of her pastimes is skiing paid for with the blood money that she earns torturing, maiming and murdering animals. Dr Sue Hughes is also on the council for a Worcester school for Girls, now, we think it is bang out of order to have a sick vivisector sitting in council within an establishment that is supposed to be guiding children in the right direction in life. Many parents would not be too happy to know that such a monster is helping to carve their kids futures.

Below are the details of how to get in touch and protest to the school in question and get this sicko kicked from the school council for the benefit of those innocent children who would be horrified to watch this woman at 'work'.

Whenever the Alice Ottley school is having an open day or a school event open to parents activists will be there to expose the horror of vivisection and to air the skeletons in Alice Ottleys closet ... "

Save the animals, test on these utter fuckwited wastes of gentic material...

From the front page of the website linked to in the article (the one with handy tips on how not to get cought)...

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Happy

Mr

The Insane bunny huggers all need locking up

Well said man! I lol'ed at the pissing petrol :D

If we were all like the above we would still be living in the dark ages where animals were considered to be mere automatoms who just responded to external stimuli and were worthy of no protection from people like you.

Sometimes I read the Register and our very own Five Live radio program here in the uk and I wonder whether the percentage of psychopaths in the population really is only 1 in 250.

I wonder if you ever gave a thought to anything else sentient but yourself and perhaps your immediate family and whether you are actually capable of putting yourself in another's position.

Get the fuck rid of this controlling, legislation mad Government

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Gnuber's Law?

Isn't 'first they came for the...' implicitly covered by Godwin's Law? I mean the original doesn't say they on the first line, it specifies the SS.

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Re: No sympathy

"Anyway, Serious - Yes.

Organised - Yes

Criminal - Yes"

Problem is, vivisection is not a light topic, so it has to be serious by default.

If you're disorganised, nothing changes, so it does have to be orgamised.

Criminal, well, merely being serious and organised can cause a criminal action.

None of which mean the actions are SeriousOrganisedCrime. The three are one thing. Not separate attributes.

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@Steve

Steve, two things slightly awry with your post:

Firstly, and somwhat ironically, you didn't read the article either. If you had, you wouldn't have wrongly the definition of harrassment - which is NOT to write to someone twice. Have another go and see if you can spot your error.

Secondly, and I could well be wrong, but I don't remember Emily Pankhurst and co sending letterbombs, hurling abuse at families and threatening to maim relatives. So comparing what was a forward-thinking campaign for emancipation with deliberation attempts at violent coercion doesn't have the 4 legs you'll need for the horse.

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