Groups & Campaigns overview
The majority of animal rights groups campaign within the law – by leafletting, peaceful demonstrations, lobbying, etc – however, a small minority of animal rights extremists are prepared to break the law to further their cause. Animal rights extremist (ARE) groups do not have members or rules, but are loose affiliations which tend to be led by a few committed individuals. Supporters use direct action tactics, both legal and illegal.
The Animal Liberation Front (ALF)
The Animal Liberation Front is a militant extremist group. It has no formal structure, which helps it to avoid legal responsibility for the crimes committed in its name. It is now active in more than 40 countries, a ‘leaderless resistance’ to the use of animals in any capacity and an umbrella group and ideological base for animal rights extremists worldwide. The ALF maintains a principal of on-violence towards “any animal, human or non-human” but is closely associated with violent animal rights.
Gateway to Hell (G2H)
The Gateway to Hell Campaign (G2H) was formed in the early 2000s to target the transport and supply chain of biomedical research including airlines, airports, embassies and government buildings in countries where research animals originate, and even travel agencies selling holidays to those countries. A large number of major airlines, including British Airways, Emirates, Qantas and United Airways have all capitulated to pressure from Gateway to Hell Campaign. The Nepalese government agreed to stop trading primates for research in 2009 after a six-year campaign by extremists.
National Anti-vivisection Alliance (NAVA)
The National Anti-vivisection Alliance (NAVA) was founded in 2010 by Luke Steele and campaigns “to bring about the abolition of animal research in Britain”. Its two primary campaigns have been “Save the Harlan Beagles”, which organises protests against the lab animal breeder, Harlan Laboratories, and the “Gateway to Hell” campaign (see below) which has put pressure on companies which transport primates into the UK for research purposes.
The campaign against Harlan Laboratories involved numerous protests outside Harlan’s four main sites, however secondary companies, such as Harlan’s waste disposal contractors, have also been targeted. In January 2012 Steele was arrested and in July 2012 he was charged with conspiracy to blackmail and sentenced to 18 months in jail for harassing staff at Harlan’s laboratories.
In December 2012 NAVA (and SHAC) were hit with a high court injunction barring them from protesting outside any of the four Harlan laboratory sites. Mrs Justice Lang said there was "overwhelming evidence of a course of conduct against individuals working for or visiting the premises of Harlan Laboratories UK, which amounts to harassment.”
Negotiation is Over (NIO)
Negotiation is Over (NIO) was set up in 2009 by Camille Marino, a “militant vegan”, who opposes all forms of animal use. NIO’s main focus was on the use of animals in research. In 2010, NIO caused controversy by calling for demonstrations at the school of the children of Dr Dario Ringach. Marino courted further controversy by turning her focus from professors to students.
“When we attack professors, we can only expect limited gains. We need to instil a new mental image: car bombs, 24/7 security cameras, embarrassing home demonstration, threats, injuries, and fear."
On 5th December 2012 Marino was sentenced to 6 months (plus three years’ probation) by Wayne County Circuit Court for unlawful posting of a message with aggravating circumstances and trespassing.
Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC)
Formed in the United Kingdom in 1999, SHAC is the most recognised ARE group in the UK. Its stated aim is to force the closure of Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). However, HLS continues to operate successfully so the campaign that has been running for over 10 years has failed.
After beginning with actions against HLS, SHAC moved on to target alleged stakeholders in the company, such as suppliers and customers. SHAC's 'secondary' or 'tertiary' targeting of a bio-medical company through its stakeholders seeded this technique among other ARE groups. Moreover, SHAC's propaganda and effectiveness allowed its leaders to become powerful players in ARE in the UK and on a global scale and their influence now extends far beyond this campaign. SHAC is now an international movement supported by affiliated extremist groups, including the Militant Forces Against Huntingdon Life Sciences (MFAH). in Europe and the United States. It continues to claim to be a lawful and legitimate protest group even though 12 of its leaders have been convicted and imprisoned for many years.
Huntingdon Life Sciences continues to operate successfully and has not been directly targeted by SHAC for many years, however a low level legal campaign continues to take place against a small number of the company’s alleged business partners.
Stop Primate Experiments At Cambridge (SPEAC and SPEAK)
SPEAC was formed in autumn 2002 with the specific goal of preventing the construction of a new primate research facility at Cambridge University. Having won that ‘victory' (Cambridge dropped building plans in early 2003 after protracted battles with extremists and difficult internal debate), SPEAC changed its name and focus. Now calling itself SPEAK, the group's mission was to prevent Oxford University from constructing a new biosciences research facility.
Although SPEAK publicly eschew violence or otherwise illegal behaviour in favour of demonstrations and letter-writing, it encourages its supporters to ‘get involved and active' and provided maps of Oxford University and its facilities ‘which you may find useful'. SPEAK also posted a £15,000 ‘reward for information leading to the conviction of an animal abuser at Oxford University' and publicised contact information for several University funders, encouraging activists to ‘hold a demonstration outside their offices'.The campaign suffered a setback when one of its co-founders, Mel Broughton, was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit arson, but remains active today.