Animal Rights Activist Cleared of Possessing Explosive Substance

6/11/08

Verdict for the campaigner, Mel Broughton, a setback for police investigating bomb attack at Oxford university animal research lab

A prominent animal rights activist accused of planting petrol bombs at Oxford University was today cleared of possessing an explosive substance with intent - packets of sparklers. The verdict in the trial of Mel Broughton, 48, is a setback for the police investigation into a series of attacks aimed at preventing construction of a £20m animal testing research laboratory. The jury at Oxford crown court was unable to reach a decision on two other charges of conspiracy to commit arson and possession of articles with intent to damage or destroy property. The prosecution has asked for a retrial.

Broughton was alleged to have caused £14,000 worth of damage when the Queen's College sports pavilion blew up in November 2006. Two similar bombs were planted under a temporary building used as an office at Templeton College three months later, but failed to go off. The bomb attacks were claimed by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) on its website, the court was told. Broughton was accused of having planned, and possibly carried out, two arson attacks on buildings belonging to the University as part of a "terrorist campaign" against a research laboratory. The two improvised devices, which exploded at the sports pavillion were made with fuel and a fuse operated by sparklers and the two bombs at Templeton college were similar.

The jury heard that the university had been targeted by animal rights campaigners since it announced plans to build the biomedical research laboratory in 2004.
Broughton was said to be the leading figure in the animal rights group Speak, which was set up in 2004 in protest at plans to build an animal testing research laboratory at Oxford. The jury were told that a DNA sample found on part of the fuse in one of the failed Templeton devices was found to be a match to Broughton.
When police arrested him at his home in Northampton in December last year they discovered 14 packets of sparklers and a battery connector in an unused water tank in his bathroom. Also, a university employee's security pass and a notebook containing a list of those identified as targets for "direct action" were found underneath his carpet, the court heard.

Broughton told the court he was involved in organising legal demonstrations against the lab in South Parks Road and understood why people got involved in taking direct action in support of animal rights. However, he denied having anything to do with the bombs. He told the jury that he was "too high-profile" to risk carrying out the attacks, as he was a well-known activist.

Judge Patrick Eccles QC discharged the jury and remanded Broughton in custody until a further hearing on a date to be fixed. A new trial is expected next year.
Defending, David Bentley, said he would like Broughton's custody status reviewed at the next hearing in the light of the jury's not-guilty verdict.
Speak could not be contacted for a response yesterday. The organisation last month held a protest outside the University's examination school to "highlight the suffering and misery of hundreds of animals imprisoned and dying inside the university's laboratories".

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/nov/06/ukcrime-oxforduniversity

 

Let us not forget that Mel was set up. He did not do what he has been convicted of. They did what they did to him to get him out of the way. Mel, like all activists campaigning against these atrocities, is a thorn in the side of those who perpetrate them. Mel has a slim hope of being freed through appeal but to him the most important thing is for there to be more people on the streets of Oxford. http://www.speakcampaigns.org/

 

Related Articles:

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fire-bomb conviction overturned 25/3/10 read
appeal over fire-bomb conviction 25/2/10 read
police condemn broughton 13/2/09 read
internment is new tactic to deal with animal rights movement 18/1/08 read



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An Insider's View of the Growth of the Animal Liberation Movement

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