Under questioning from Michael Fabricant yesterday (Monday 18th October) in the House of Commons, Home Secretary, David Blunkett, revealed that the law will be tightened to protect those being intimidated by animal rights extremists. He said: "All hon. Members will join me in condemning the bestial extremists who desecrated a grave in Staffordshire 10 days ago and in sending our sympathy to the family. Our licensing laws in that area are the strongest in the world, but now we must take the strongest action to ensure that people can go about their business of increasing our safety and enhancing our health without their being intimidated…… We are amending the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, enhancing what used to be called the rattening laws in relation to attacks on people’s homes, and ensuring that the police presence for those most affected can be stepped up. We now have a taskforce, under an assistant chief constable, which will prioritise and target resources, and we will ensure that it does its job properly."
Michael Fabricant then asked: "I am grateful to the Home Secretary for mentioning the desecration of the grave in Yoxall in my constituency. Is he aware, however, that that is just the culmination of more than five years of intimidation of not only the Hall family, who breed guinea pigs in my constituency for medical research, but other villagers in Newchurch and Yoxall and people who supply the Hall family with everything from newspapers to groceries? Is the Home Secretary convinced that the legislation that he outlined will put an end to this intimidation once and for all?"
The Home Secretary answered: "With the very positive way in which the hon. Gentleman, alongside my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mrs. Dean), has been dealing with this issue, I believe that it will. It has already cost the taxpayer an additional £250,000 for Staffordshire to be able to police the guinea pig farm. It has been, as has correctly been spelled out, a nightmare for everyone involved and for the local community, trying to help one another. I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman for the dedication with which he has engaged with Ministers on the issue, and I believe that if we work together we can get this right."
Michael Fabricant now says: "I hope the changes to the law will ensure that intimidation by animal rights extremists can be stamped out. So often, promises have been made by the Government which have come to nothing. I hope in this instance, the new legislation will succeed in its objectives."