Animal rights 16 go on trial

SIXTEEN animal rights activists, including a mother and son, and a woman from Huntingdon, have gone on trial accused of offences during a protest against the building of an animal testing laboratory at Oxford University. The defendants, who each wore iden

SIXTEEN animal rights activists, including a mother and son, and a woman from Huntingdon, have gone on trial accused of offences during a protest against the building of an animal testing laboratory at Oxford University.

The defendants, who each wore identical t-shirts bearing a picture of a primate called Felix behind bars, could not all fit in the dock for the start of their month-long trial at Oxford Magistrates' Court.

The defendants include Amanda James, 22, of Wheatley Cresent, Huntingdon.

Representing an organisation called Speak, the protesters were demonstrating when police tried to restrict their activity on June 21 last year.


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All the defendants, whose ages range from 22 to 70, deny charges of failing to comply with conditions imposed by Thames Valley Police.

Three defendants, Mel Broughton, 46, Fran Cornwell, 59 and Rachel Nelson, 40, deny additional charges of inciting other campaigners to breach police conditions.

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Mel Broughton, 46, also stood jointly charged with his 70-year-old mother Pauline, of resisting or obstructing a police constable, which both deny.

Ms Cornwell also denies an additional charge of assaulting a policeman.

District Judge Deborah Wright was told that between 30 and 40 protestors from Speak had gathered in Oxford city centre.

Senior police who had been liasing with the groups' members, became concerned that there was a risk that public order could be breached because of the increasing noise and disruption allegedly being caused.

The protest took place on the historic Senior Day Ceremony when the city was packed with dignitaries and tourists.

Opening the prosecution case, Gareth Branston told the court that police had asked the protesters to move from their current location close to Hartford College, to a more suitable location at Martyrs Memorial, nearby.

"The police said that no more than 50 placard-waving protesters could take part, the protest could last only three hours and the campaigners would have to walk along a certain route to get there."

Mr Branson said members of the group began to sit down.

"The protesters made it clear to the police that they were not complying with the conditions imposed. lawfully ."

The defendants are:Amanda James, 22, of Wheatley Crescent, Huntingdon, Pauline Broughton, of Welford Road, Northampton; Mel Broughton of Semilong Road, Northampton; Fran Cornwell of Porlock Lane, Milton Keynes, Bucks, Anna Cooke, 31, of Honeysuckle Road, High Wycombe, Bucks, Sheila English, 64, years, of Jacks Lane, Turvey, Bedfordshire, Anthony Morrison, 43, of Lyndhurst Avenue, Newcastle, Rachel Nelson of North Town Lane, North Wootton, Somerset; Deborah Scicluna, 46, of Osman Close, London; Emma Speed, 39, of Victoria Drive, Leigh on Sea, Essex, Eileen Kinghorn, 53, of Wellington Way, Bow, East London; Michael Haines, 59, of North Home Road, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, Trevor Holmes, 50, of Holystene Crescent, Newcastle, Joanna Robertson, 29, and Melanie Bates, 35, both of Shaftesbury Road, Reading, Berks. They were all granted conditional bail.

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