Stalk ye not!

ON 25 February, three animal rights activists became the first protesters in the country to be taken to court under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 -- a law introduced to protect women from stalkers.

Last year Peter Harrison, the owner of Cornyhaugh Mink Farm in Northumberland took out a injunction banning Newcastle Animal Rights Coalition and anyone connected with the group from demonstrating near his farm, from using the highway which runs alongside the farm and from phoning or writing to him! The campaign against the mink farm followed an undercover investigation in 1997 into the appalling conditions in which mink are kept.

A month after taking part in a candle-light vigil outside the farm, Stephen Tindle and Elizabeth Crocker were arrested and charged with the "continual harassment" of Harrison. They were accused of repeatedly trespassing on Harrison's land and of leaving him and his family feeling "threatened and distressed". After a three day trial, Stephen and Elizabeth were found guilty. They got absolute discharges, £100 costs -- and restraining orders preventing them from going within half a mile of the farm, under the threat of up to five years' imprisonment.

Liz Parratt from Liberty told the Brighton-based SchNEWS "Using the new Act in this way will detract from the aim of protecting genuine victims of harassment whilst adding to the arsenal of criminal sanctions already available against legitimate protest. One wonders how long it will before the same provisions are used against investigative journalists."

May 1998
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