Former animal rights prisoner Debbie Vincent has just been awarded £3500 from Avon and Somerset Constabulary. It admitted liability for unlawful arrest, imprisonment and assault following a demonstration at Bristol Airport in March 2012.
During the Spring Animal Rights Gathering in Bristol, activists staged a protest against Air France-KLM under the banner of Gateway to Hell . This was a worldwide campaign uniting groups to take action against airlines who flew animals to vivisection laboratories. It said: “Air France-KLM is the world’s number one transporter of laboratory animals and forms a vital link between the global research industry. They transport all sorts of animals to and from anywhere, without discrimination or consideration of the fate that they would suffer!”
According to ITN News, “fake blood was thrown at the terminal building and it is alleged that passengers were harassed at the KLM check-in desk.” Six activists, including Debbie, were detained at the airport on suspicion of criminal damage and public order offences and three more were arrested in the city centre on suspicion of public order offences. They were all later released on bail.
When no charges were brought Debbie decided to sue Avon & Somerset police for assault, unlawful arrest and imprisonment. Despite knowing they were clearly in the wrong, the police refused to settle early and only threw in the towel just before a pre-trial hearing. This meant that they had to pay £9000 towards her legal costs as well.
Later in 2012 Debbie was arrested and charged with conspiracy to blackmail for her role in the SHAC campaign. She was sentenced to six years in gaol. Since her release on licence in April, she was been living in a hostel but hopes to move to a place of her own soon.
While on probation, Debbie is subject to a Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement (MAPPA). Originally devised for terrorists, these draconian orders stipulate what she can do and who she is allowed to meet. They do not permit her to use the internet or communicate with those convicted for “domestic extremism” – a term which has no legal definition – and will apply until her sentence ends in 2020.
Well done Debbie for receiving the payout. The money will certainly help you in rebuilding your life after serving a long sentence for fighting cruelty to defenceless animals.
Report by Corporate Watch on Debbie’s trial in 2014. https://corporatewatch.org/news/2014/apr/17/if-you-dont-fight-youve-already-lost