Seven people who have protested against vivisection have been charged with conspiracy to commit section 145 SOCPA 2005. SOCPA stands for Serious Organised Crime and Police Act and section 145 is committed if a criminal or tortious (civil wrong) act is threatened or carried out to interfere with a contractual relationship between an animal research organisation and another company.
The seven activists were charged because between October 2011 and June 2012 they took part in 25 incidents: 23 protests and 2 occasions of direct action (criminal damage). The defendants are accused of attending some of the protests. There’s no evidence they had any involvement or knowledge of the direct action. The protests are being labelled as harassment and public order breaches – trigger offences for section 145 SOCPA, which carries a sentence of up to five years imprisonment.
The demonstrations were carried out by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty against Huntingdon Life Sciences, the notorious animal testing laboratory. SHAC protesters have long been subject to state repression and in April Debbie Vincent was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to blackmail. Debbie is one of the SOCPA7.
The trial is scheduled to begin at Southwark Crown Court in London on 22 September and last six to eight weeks. Before that there is a pre-trial hearing on 30 July, which is now also an international day of solidarity with the SOCPA7. Organise info nights and fundraising events or hold protests at British Embassies and vivisection targets in your area dedicated to the SOCPA7. Let the campaign know if you’re organising an event so it can be advertised and send a report and photo afterwards. Let’s show the defendants they’re not alone. Smash HLS and state repression!