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The 'SOCPA Seven'
Posted 21 August 2014
September 22 marks the start of a criminal trial in London’s Southwark Crown Court that, supporters of the seven defendants claim, amounts to a concerted attack on non-violent grass roots anti-vivisection campaigning. It is argued that peaceful protests against Europe’s largest animal testing lab, Huntingdon Life Sciences, have led to charges of criminal conspiracy ‘under laws created specifically to criminalise animal rights campaigning’.
The seven are being charged under Section 145 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA), a provision introduced in 2005 by the then Labour government in response to a growing, more radical brand of anti-vivisection activism. SOCPA Section 145 and the companion S146 apply only to anti vivisection campaigning and turn minor public order breaches into serious criminal offences that can result in jail terms of up to five years.
The ‘SOCPA7’ are charged with conspiracy. A website set up in their defence claims: ‘Beneath the masses of evidence material and legal terminology, the only thing the defendants are accused of doing themselves is taking part in protests.
‘With the increasing repression of animal rights activists, it’s important that we show support for the SOCPA7 and raise awareness of this case. If they can be sent to prison for protesting, you could be next.’
You can make up you own mind by visiting: www.socpa7.org/support.html
Andrew Tyler, Director Animal Aid.