Animal Aid

Jailing of animal activist has 'serious implications for freedom of speech'

Posted 16 June 2008

A law 'enacted under the pretext of protecting the public from terrorists is now being used to silence non-violent protesters'. That's the verdict of grassroots news agency Indymedia, after the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act was used to jail for 4.5 years the operator of a website that was critical of Ledbury-based animal testing company Sequani.

After an 18 week, £4.5 million trial, which the press were barred from reporting, Sean Kirtley was found guilty of 'interfering with the contractual relationships' of an animal research laboratory. Indymedia report that no evidence was used in court that proved Kirtley was engaged in anti social behaviour on demonstrations, criminal damage or any other illegal activity.

All five other defendants were acquitted, yet the judge - reported to be a keen hunter - refused to award them travel costs. These totalled several thousand of pounds.

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