of animal rights campaigners is to receive substantial payouts after taking
legal action against Lancashire Police. The action, brought by five protesters,
followed arrests made during demonstrations outside Vodafone shops in Preston
and Blackpool in 2006. The
protesters – Dr Keith Richardson, Dr Joanne Moodie, Dr Elisa Aaltola,
Dean Cain and Krystyna Warzecha – were arrested for alleged public
order offences because images on their placards of monkeys being experimented
on were considered offensive. The protests were intended to highlight financial
ties alleged between the phone giant and a biomedical research laboratory
at Oxford University. The legal action concerned arrests at five protests
between March 11 and July 26, 2006.
brought a civil action against Lancashire Constabulary for false imprisonment
and under the Human Rights Act 1998, claiming their rights to freedom of
expression and the right to public assembly had been breached. Lancashire
Police has now accepted that the protests were legitimate. The group will
receive an undisclosed sum in an out-of-court settlement. They were arrested
under section five of the Public Order Act 1986 because of graphic images
of animal experiments.
Police said at the time the pictures were "likely to be insulting,
threatening and abusive to members of the public". campaigner Dr Keith
Richardson, 38, accused police of acting as "censors".
"We wanted to show the truth of animal experiments to the public; this
kind of research is legal and funded with public money and the public should
be informed about it."The
reaction of the police to the images was a case of shooting the messenger.
On one protest, five police vehicles, including a riot van, attended when
there were just three of us." Dr Richardson, Dr Moodie and Dr Aaltola
were living in Lancaster at the time of the protests. Drs Richardson and
Moodie are now based in Southampton while Dr Aaltola is currently based
in Manchester. Mr Cain is from Ulverston and Ms Warzecha is from Blackpool.
and Mr Cain, were prosecuted but found not guilty after a three-day trial
at Blackpool Magistrates' Court in February 2007. A statement issued by
Lancashire Police said: "The Chief Constable, having reviewed matters,
agrees that the images shown by the claimants in the course of protests
were not themselves insulting, threatening or abusive.
claimants actions in protesting were a legitimate exercise of their rights
under articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights."