45 arrested as inquest on veal protester opens

Police and demonstrators clash as exports leave Coventry airport two da ys after protester against trade was killed by livestock lorry
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The Independent Online
Air exports of live calves resumed from Coventry airport yesterday, two days after being suspended following the death of Jill Phipps who was killed by a livestock lorry during a protest against the live animal trade.

The Phoenix Aviation flight left the ground shortly before an inquest into Ms Phipps's death heard that she died instantly when crushed beneath the wheels of a lorry outside the airport at Baginton on Wednesday.

Her father, Robert Phipps, 70, and her sister, Lesley Phipps, were arrested at the airport yesterday as they continued Ms Phipps's fight against the trade. They had tried to run in front of a Pheonix aircraft carrying 98 live animals.

Mr and Ms. Phipps were said by fellow protestors to have been "furious" when they found out that Pheonix's voluntary moratorium on flights to Amsterdam was ended while they were at the opening of the inquest at Coventry magistrates' court into Ms Phipps's death.

Eight people were arrested during minor disturbances yesterday and at least two flights took off without further incident. Justin Timson, 26, Ms. Phipps's partner, clashed with police when he tried to chain himself to a Russian transport aircraft chartered by Pheonix.

Mr Timson said: "How could they be so insensitive. Jill hasn't been buried yet but these bastards don't care. We feel we've been deceived again by Christopher Barrett-Jolley [the owner of Pheonix Aviation ] and the police.

"I was on my way back from the inquest when I heard on the radio that a lorry load of calves was being delivered. I couldn't believe it and I rushed to the airport to try to stop them.

John Bradshaw, a spokesman for Pheonix Aviation, said the company had been unaware that the inquest was to have been opened yesterday. When informed that some campaigners felt flights ought to have been suspended until after Ms Phipp's funeral, he replied: "You could say that is one opinion. But I can't pass judgement on it."

t Dyfed County Council yesterday rejected plans by the Farmers Union of Wales to begin livestock flights through Withybush airfield, Haverfordwest, which it owns and operates after hearing that policing costs would be prohibitive.

The decision will come before a full council meeting later this month but yesterday's vote seems certain to be upheld.

Bob Parry, the president of the FUW, said: "We understand that farmers are preparing to mount counter-demonstrations against animal welfare activists who are hitting their trade.

We cannot condone such action . . . but we understand their frustration. The Army should be called in."

John Albon, the Assistant Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, yesterday condemned protesters against the trade at Plymouth. "Mob violence and mob behaviour cannot be allowed to subvert the law," he said.

Five people were arrested and two police officers were injured in clashes. Chris Deacon, spokesman for Animal Concern Today, said a "yob element", which had joined 500 protestors, was to blame.