Licence Protest Over Grave Robbers
animal rights activist involved in notorious protests against a former guinea
pig farm near Burton is to stand trial after refusing to pay her television
licence in protest at a BBC programme about the affair.
Tomlinson claims the Crimewatch Solved show, broadcast in August 2006, contained
‘factual inaccuracies’ about the campaign against Darley Oaks
Farm, in Newchurch, which shot to national prominence after the body of
Gladys Hammond, mother-in-law of one of the farm’s owners, was stolen
from her grave.
of Shobnall Close, Burton, who was arrested and questioned about the exhumation
before being released without charge, refused to buy a new TV licence until
the BBC retracted claims made in the programme and apologised.
an appearance at Burton Magistrates’ Court, a defiant Tomlinson said
she would be using her argument against the BBC as the basis for a not guilty
plea to a charge of using a television without a licence.
Speaking after the hearing,
she told the Mail:
“I think it’s
disgusting. I want the BBC to admit they lied.
“They should not expect me to pay for a programme which deliberately
maligns innocent people.
“I know I’m probably going to get fined but at least it will
“I’m a fighter and if I know I’m right about something
I’ll continue to fight to prove my point. I’m making a moral
said the infamy she earned after being questioned about the exhumation continued
to dog her. She said: “It affects me every time it’s mentioned
because to this day, everyone in Burton knows I was arrested for the grave
robbery. “I’ve had paint-stripper poured on my car, my garage
door superglued, had threatening letters and been abused in the street,
in supermarkets and restaurants. It’s terrible. If my mother had still
been alive it would have killed her.” Tomlinson claimed the programme
unfairly led viewers to believe protestors were responsible for the exhumation
of Mrs Hammond’s body, although she said there was ‘no evidence’
of this. She also said the programme had unfairly alleged the protestors
who continued to demonstrate after the exhumation were ‘hardcore’
and ‘in the main involved in criminality’. However, the broadcasting
watchdog Ofcom threw out the complaint, finding the programme had not been
unfair to Tomlinson as she had not been featured in the programme, nor was
she linked with criminality or the exhumation.
protestors eventually claimed victory in September 2005 when the farm’s
owners, John and Christopher Hall, announced they were closing their guinea
pig breeding business. However, four activists, Jon Ablewhite, John Smith,
Kerry Whitburn and Jospehine Mayo, were jailed the following year for their
‘campaign of terror’ against the Hall family.
pointed out that it was Smith who had told police where to find Mrs Hammond’s
will return to court for trial on Monday, January 10.