Christopher and Margaret Hall of Darley Oaks Farm near Newchurch, Yoxall in Staffordshire have been the target of obscene death threats from animal rights extremists for the last few months. They breed guinea pigs for medical research and their farm is regularly inspected to ensure that the guinea pigs are bred humanely. Although Staffordshire Police are doing the best they can to protect Mr and Mrs Hall and the farm from damage, Michael Fabricant has been campaigning for extra police resources to be deployed and for the Halls to meet with a Home Office Minister to outline their situation.
But the Minister concerned has snubbed the Halls. The chronology of the events this year to date "sum up the arrogant attitude of many ministers in this present Government" claims Michael Fabricant.
|25th March||Mr and Mrs Hall meet Michael Fabricant at his Constituency Advice Surgery|
|27th March||Michael writes to the Home Secretary and the Chief Constable enclosing death threats addressed to the Halls telling them to close by 1st May|
|3rd May||Assistant Chief Constable and Home Office Minister with responsibility for Policing, Charles Clarke MP, replies.|
|19th May||Halls write to Mr Fabricant agreeing to his offer to put case personally to the Minister (this is normal practice).|
|24th May||Fabricant writes to Charles Clarke requesting meeting with his constituents|
|21st June||Clarke writes to Fabricant stating "I would be happy to meet you (one night around a vote) for a few minutes in the lobby in the House of Commons". [Note: The voting lobby is closed to visitors, so this is ‘code’ for ‘I will see you alone without your constituents’]|
|26th June||Michael Fabricant persists. He writes back to Minister stating "there may have been a misunderstanding" and that he wants a meeting with his constituents. This is normal practice.|
|28th July||No reply forthcoming from Minister and House rises for summer recess until end October. Michael Fabricant’s private office in House of Commons calls the Home Office. Told that Charles Clarke is now "on holiday" and unavailable until at least September.|
"I cannot decide whether this string of events is just incompetence or arrogance", says Michael Fabricant. "Chris and Margaret Hall have been receiving death threats, farm property has been damaged, fireworks have been let off during the night (ironically, frightening the guinea pigs whom the extremists say they want to protect), and graffiti has been daubed over the farm and also neighbouring villages.
"Whatever the rights and wrongs of this case – and if the farm is closed, the guinea pigs will be imported from continental Europe where there are few farm welfare controls over the breeding of such animals – this is a law and order question. It is up to the Minister to decide what action, if any, he will take, but he has set an extraordinary precedent by refusing to meet the Halls. And now his office say he has gone away. The Minister’s behaviour is a disgrace to the Home Office and I shall be making a formal complaint to Home Secretary, Jack Straw, regarding this".