Sentencing of the SOCPA 7

The activists known as the SOCPA7 were sentenced on Friday 10 October for campaigning against animal testing and Huntingdon Life Sciences. A peaceful protest was held outside the court and many compassionate activists filled the public gallery in a show of support for the defendants and in resistance to state repression.

The punishments were as follows:

Debbie: 12 months in prison to be served concurrent (at the same time) as her current prison sentence for the Blackmail3 case
Lorna: 12 months in prison suspended for 2 years // £500 costs
Emma: 6 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months // £500 costs // £500 fine
Emily: Conditional discharge for 18 months // £500 costs
Alexis: £500 costs // £500 fine
Anton: 6 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months // £500 costs // £500 fine.

While it’s a relief that none of those who were on bail received custodial sentences, the judge said all were guilty of serious offences and were aware of what they were doing as the demos were organised under the aegis of SHAC.

If the defendants had gone to trial instead of taking the plea deal, they would almost certainly have been convicted and would then have faced even more extreme sentencing from the judge – who was clearly biased because they were involved with SHAC. In this scenario it is likely both Debbie and Lorna would have received immediate prison sentences of between two to four years.

SHAC announced it was ending in August and on the basis of the whole of this case – from arrests and house raids, through to restrictive bail conditions which lasted over two years to the final sentencing – it appears that it would have been impossible for it to carry on anyway. The state was determined that it should be crushed and even peaceful demonstrations were not to be tolerated. In effect SHAC had been designated a terrorist organization but without ever being proscribed under the 2000 Terrorism Act.

As the SOCPA7 website itself says: “There is no justice in the legal system. The state will go to any length to silence effective activism, particularly against animal testing. The battle surrounding vivisection will continue and so it is incredibly important that we work together to build an understanding of and resilience to repression and support our comrades in the fight for justice. Although the struggle can be hard at times, we must support our casualties. Solidarity will give us the strength to win the war for liberation.”

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