Verdict for the campaigner, Mel Broughton, a setback for police
investigating bomb attack at Oxford university animal research lab
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.
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.
jury heard that the university had been targeted by animal rights campaigners
since it announced plans to build the biomedical research laboratory in
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.
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.
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
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".
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/
broughton freed on bail 30/3/10 read
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