Anarchists incited violence, court told

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The Independent Online
Five men said to be committed anarchists or to have strong views about animal rights and environmental issues went on trial yesterday accused of conspiring to incite criminal damage.

Richard Onslow, prosecuting, told Portsmouth Crown Court: "This case isn't about free speech, it's about whether they agreed to incite other people to commit criminal damage.

"You can publish exactly what you want, but, say the Crown, you cannot encourage people to break your neighbour's windows because you don't like your neighbour's views."

Each defendant had different ends and different beliefs in mind, but wanted criminal damage to be done, and worked together to encourage others to do this, "devoting their lives to it", he said. They encouraged direct action - sometimes violent.

"This is about spraying graffiti, sling-shots through butchers' windows, paint-stripper on cars, etching fluid on lorry windows, burning lorries, burning buildings and sending explosive devices through the post," said Mr Onslow.

The accused - Paul Rogers, 33, of Oxford; Stephen Booth, 38, of Cowgate, Lancashire; Saxon Burchnall Wood, 24, of Sandhurst, Berkshire; Simon Russell, 33, of Westham, Sussex, and Noel Molland, 36, of Throwleigh, Devon - deny conspiring together and with Robin Webb, press officer of the Animal Liberation Front, unlawfully to incite persons unknown to commit criminal damage.

He said Mr Rogers, ananarchist became the principal editor of the Green Anarchist magazine in March 1991. The prosecution alleges the magazine promoted criminal damage and literature about it.

Mr Booth, said counsel, was another anarchist who was closely involved with Green Anarchist. Mr Molland, he said, had written and published a free-sheet when he was a student which included a parody of a Janet and John story, where they drove past a butcher's shop and John catapulted a ball bearingthrough the window.

Mr Wood, said counsel, was involved with the Green Anarchist Mail Order, from which could be obtained a publication giving information on how to make an incendiary device.

Mr Russell, said the prosecution, was committed to animal rights and from 1992 ran the Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group newsletter, for which Mr Webb wrote a column.

The trial continues on Monday.

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