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   Inside Out - West Midlands: Monday October 18, 2004


Peaceful protestors
Peaceful protestors like these aren't the problem

What happens when peaceful protest becomes a hate campaign? Inside Out has the exclusive story of a family under siege at Darley Oaks Farm in Newchurch.

It's a familiar scene - animal rights protestors lined up and voicing their opinions on the farming practices they deem unacceptable.

But unlike this protest, matters in this village have gone further than expected - with the desecration of a family grave.

82-year-old Gladys Hammond's remains were removed from her resting place in Staffordshire by what are thought to be radical animal rights protestors, who have embarked on a tireless terror campaign against the Hall family.

John Hall and his brother Chris breed guinea pigs for medical research at their farm which has outraged animal rights protestors who are against vivisection.

Gladys Hammond was Chris Hall’s mother in law.

A tireless campaign

The desecration of Gladys Hammond's grave is the most recent in a long history of threatening action against the Hall family, who live under siege at their farmland home.

So far, the Halls have been subject to property damage, harassment and even death threats from radical activists, who operate anonymously, usually in the dead of night.

While most animal rights protestors prefer to demonstrate peacefully and avoid violence, it is clear that there are some who take a more drastic approach.

In fact, things have got so bad that the Halls have had to take some extreme security measures to ensure their personal safety.

John says, "We've had to erect a security fence and there are dogs running free.

"We also have some CCTV and employ private security to ensure that we can get some sleep at night.

"It is unpleasant but it just has to be because we can't get the protection we require from other sources - the police can't sit there 24 hours a day in case something happens."

The effects of the terror campaign are far-reaching - John Hall's daughter was even tracked down and subjected to abuse.

"My daughter, who has never worked in the industry and was living in her own home away from here - they found her, intimidated her company into making her leave and trashed the works car that she had been provided with.

"I think it goes beyond just protest - some of their actions are terrorism and need to be dealt with as such."

The ripple effect

And it's not just the Hall family who have been targeted - whoever is behind the terror campaign is also after anyone the family do business with.

Simon Turner works as a driver for the Halls, delivering guinea pigs from the farm to the laboratories.

Simon Turner and Inside Out presenter Ashley Blake
"I would class them as terrorists, their tactics are no different."
Simon Turner

Simon told us, "We've had windows broken, paint thrown at the shutters, and a package was left on the doorstep had to be dealt with by the bomb squad.

"I've had numerous death threats - they reckon they're watching us 24/7.

"We can't sleep in bed at night without fear of somebody coming and doing something to the house.

"I think these people are prepared to go all the way."

But Simon is not the only one to be targeted.

Rod Harvey runs a small fuel delivery service. His work takes him to Darley Oaks but he has never even seen the guinea pigs.

That didn't stop Rod becoming a victim of the extended harassment campaign.

"I was out driving when my wife rang and said 'I've got the police here, there's a letter going around that you're a paedophile.' I said 'you're joking.'"

Both Rod and his wife Dot were in no doubt where the letter had come from, but it seems there's very little they can do.

Dot has been left shell shocked and has had to install extra security measures to ensure that she feels safe.

"I don't trust anybody, I'm very nervous of noises and sudden movement - I'm terrified."

"You get them looking through the windows, shouting through the letterbox, banging on the door - it's just horrific.

Rod's wife Dot
Rod's wife Dot points out their new security measures

"You just have to sit it out and hope they don't get any further than the front of your property - if they got to the back I wouldn't have a cat in hell's chance.

"You think you are not going to give in to these people but when it comes to the crunch and it's hit one of your family, enough is enough, you can't take it any more."


Even the police are shocked by the actions of the protesters.

Inspector David Bird of the Staffordshire Police told us, "These people hide behind the legitimate protest and quite frankly they are cowards for doing so.

"I've been a police officer for 18 years and this is one of the most sinister campaigns of harassment I've ever investigated."

But John is determined not to give in to the activists.

"We're not monsters, we're just ordinary people doing a job, admittedly a job that some people don't like, but it is legal and until it isn't we'll carry on."

See also ...

On the rest of Inside Out
Animal sanctuary exposed

BBC Science and Nature - Animal Experiments

On the rest of the web
Animal Liberation Front

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

john connor
the main subject keeps getting overlooked doesn't it - and that is the fate of the poor innocent animals inside those filthy sheds at darley oaks. imagine being denied sunlight, thrown into a box to be strapped down on a vivisectors table to be butchered to death. why does everyone forget about this when newchurch is brought up??? thats why the animal rights movement is doing what its doing - to help save animals lives!!!!

A new supporter for Mr Hall
For Neil Lea's information terrorism isn't about killing people it's about terrorising people and the Hall family are clearly being terrorised.

Hannah Jackson
I would be interested to know how many of the people who sympathise with the actions of animal rights protestors refuse ALL medical treatment for themselves and their families on the grounds that every drug, from Paracetamol, to cough mixture to cancer drugs are tested on animals. Britain has the most stringent animal welfare laws to protect animals in medical research in the world. Stop research in Britain, and drug research will be done only in parts of the world where animals are treated far less humanely. How is this a victory for anyone? I realise it is a cliche, but would I refuse life saving treatment for my child because a guinea pig was used to test the drug to save her life? No, I dont think so. Would I / do I refuse to eat pork reared in factory farms? Yes. Until sane and reasonable people can convince me that there is a comparable alternative I will continue to deplore these tactics in the same way I would deplore anyone who uses violence to back up an arguement that, according to their tenets, should be self evident without its use. If their cause is just then violence should not be necessary.The fact that they use it would imply the opposite.

Neil Sarkar
Perhaps they would prefer to take the animals places for valid medical tests? I bet you'd have a very low take up rate !!! They wouldn't be able to get to all the other protest marches, fox hunting, poll tax, etc etc etc. what we have witnessed on tonights episode are criminal acts that should be acted on.

brian may
The programme was very biased against those people who are concerned for animal welfare and basically taring them all with the same brush. They are easy targets for the "Insideout" team to condem and who did not once mentioning the time and struggle concerned people put into their compaigns. Also no mention was made in reference to the experiments that are, in their thousands, carried out on these defenceless animals and what happened to them once they were no longer of interest to the experimenters. If I in anyway assisted in this awful business I would deserve to be treated badly by those people who care and try to make life better for animals who are simply used,

L. J. Farrell
The animal rights protestors seem to be forgetting that humans have rights too. They should be doing something productive like trying to change the law, not disturbing innocent people who have the right to live in peace without being harrassed. There is nothing wrong with the way the guinea pigs are treated from what I saw. If the protestors are so bothered about animals being used for experiments and such then they should volunteer for testing to be done on themselves.

neil lea
I would like to make three comments about the programme. One Andrew Davies was found guilty of Section 4, causing alarming and distress to Simon Turner and given one month in jail. The interview clearly shows that Turner was not alarmed or distressed and gave the impression that if the police had not arrived he would have thumped Davies. So why didn't the Inside Out programme give a copy of the interview to Andrew Davies solicitors as it would have been a very good piece of evidence in his favour. Second one would have to be stupid to not realise that John Hall could have easily cleaned up the guinea pig sheds and removed the dead ones before filming was allowed and filming that only he was allowed to do, how stupid to you think your viewers are? And lastly so Simon Turner thinks says that he "would class them as terrorists, their tactics are no different." So how many people have animal rights activists killed? None. How many animal rights activists have been killed out campaigning - five, in this country alone. To compare people who smash some windows and pour paint on cars and windows to real terrorists soils the memory of people like Ken Bigley who was killed by terrorists.

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