Luke Steele in police custody following arrest in Leeds
Wed, 1 February 2012
Luke Steele, a British animal rights activist has been arrested at a demonstration.
Luke Steele, a British animal rights activist who has risen to prominence over the past two years as the founder of the National Anti-Vivisection Alliance (NAVA), has been taken into police custody after being arrested on 28 January during a demonstration in Leeds. It is thought he will remain in Leeds prison until his appearance at Leicester Crown Court. Previously affiliated with SHAC, Steele and two other extremists were convicted in 2009 for their involvement in the on-going extremist campaign against Highgate Rabbit Farm in Lincolnshire – a supplier of rabbits to Huntingdon Life Sciences.
According to The Guardian, in June 2009, Luke was "convicted of conspiracy to interfere with a contractual relationship, so as to harm an animal research organisation, after being arrested near an isolated Lincolnshire farm that supplies rabbits for research".
The details of the sentencing are unclear, but it seems that Steele and a co-defendant Dean Cain gave information to the police in return for more lenient treatment, which would appear to explain the abrupt end of Steele’s relationship with SHAC, the relative lack of information about him on various SHAC-affiliated and AR prisoner support websites, and the high degree of animosity towards him from many in the movement.
From 2010 he has become an increasingly vocal and high profile figure in the UK animal rights movement, first as a spokesman for Stop Animal Experiments at Bradford (SAEAB) – a campaign targeting biomedical research at Bradford University in the north of England, and then as the founder of NAVA, an animal rights organisation that has pursued a number of campaigns against companies associated with animal research – most recently Harlan Laboratories, a multinational animal research company with operations in Leicestershire and Cambridgeshire. NAVA regularly tweets communiqués of direct actions from the extremist website Bite Back.
Steele is also the de facto leader of a number of animal rights networks such as NARN, the Northern Animal Rights Network, established to network between existing groups in the north of England. - See more here.
On 17 July 2012, at Birmingham Crown Court, Luke Steele admitted to:
- "Interference with contractual relationships so as to harm animal research organisation"
- "Intimidate persons connected with animal research organisation"
- "Failure to disclose key to protected information"
Ten days later he was sentenced to a total of 18 months including the 6 months already served on remand.