rights activist found guilty at retrial of campaign against Oxford University
animal rights activist from Northampton has been convicted of conspiracy
to commit arson and having an article with intent to destroy property in
a campaign against Oxford University.
A jury today returned guilty verdicts at the retrial at Oxford Crown Court
of Mel Broughton, of Semilong Road.
was originally convicted of the offences by a jury in February 2009, and
successfully appealed his conviction in February this year.
Court of Appeal ordered that he should face a retrial, where he has been
found guilty for a second time.
trial, at Oxford Crown Court, heard that Broughton, leader of the campaign
group SPEAK, assembled incendiary devices using sparklers, firelighters
and petrol. He then used these in an arson attack at Queen's College sports
pavilion on November 18, 2006. Similar devices, which failed to ignite,
were found under a portable cabin at Templeton College on February 26, 2007.
was arrested at his home in December 2007 after forensic analysis located
DNA evidence suggesting he had been in possession of the devices found at
warrant executed at the Semilong Road address located further evidence linking
Broughton to both offences.
court heard how sparklers and a battery connector were found in a water
tank and various documents and lists, demonstrating Broughton's interest
in the University and those associated with it, were also hidden around
Supt Mark Jones, investigating officer on the case, said: "A lengthy
and thorough investigation has today been rewarded with the right result.
evidence showed the jury that Broughton's interest in the animal rights
cause went further than that of a legitimate protestor. He has been proven
to be someone who believes direct action, in the form of planting explosives
and setting fires, is acceptable. By doing so, he has shown that he is willing
to risk the lives of other people for his cause.
conviction today demonstrates that detectives will continue to pursue all
lines of enquiry available, even many months down the line. And as science
provides an increasingly effective tool in the fight against extremism,
anyone considering crossing the line between reasonable, lawful protest
and criminal activity should take note."
Thames and Chiltern Complex Casework Unit lawyer, Denis Burke, said: "Mel
Broughton has always claimed that he was only a peaceful protestor. His
conviction today demonstrates that, in fact, he was willing to commit criminal
offences against legitimate businesses and institutions for the furtherance
of his cause.
matter what your personal convictions are, putting property and lives at
risk through the use of incendiary devices can never be justified. Our society
supports the right to free speech and to campaign peacefully, but, where
there is evidence of criminal behaviour, regardless of the perceived cause,
a prosecution will almost certainly follow.
case was not and has never been about attacking free speech or the right
to protest. The prosecution's case centred purely on what we alleged were
will have to serve the remainder of his 10-year-sentence, as passed in February
campaigner insists innocence 6/7/10 read
mel broughton on trial once again 15/6/10 read
mel 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
animal rights activist cleared of possessing explosive substance 6/11/08
thames valley police wage a dirty war’ on the speak campaign 5/5/08
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