Animal export protest blocks entry to Dover

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Dover faced its first day of serious disruption from protesters against the live animal export trade yesterday when seven people chained themselves together across the main approach road to the Kent port.

Sea Saboteurs, dedicated to fighting the livestock trade on land, sea and air, stopped traffic on the A20 for about 20 minutes. The road, one of Europe's busiest, soon had a tailback several miles long.

As the saboteurs chained themselves across the road, about 60 protesters ran among the traffic queues while 100 others cheered them on. Officers spent about 20 minutes trying to cut the protesters loose but were thwarted by the thinness of the chain, selected to pass between the blades of the police's big bolt cutters.

Eventually officers cut them loose and arrested 11 people, including the television script-writer Carla Lane. Her manager, Peter Wakeham, said she was watching the protesters.

"She was arrested for doing very little. All she did wrong was stand on a pavement to try to talk to somebody. She was told to get off and she said 'I will in a minute'. And, wallop, they arrested her," he said.

A spokeswoman for Kent Police said the protesters had caused major disruption at the entrance to the port. Dover Harbour Board said the protest did not make a significant impact on the port but it was concerned that future actions could cause more disruption.

The organisers of the action pronounced themselves happy with the level of disturbance they caused. "This was just a trial run to see whether it would work and it worked rather well. It was cheap and cheerful. All it cost us was seven cheap locks and a bit of chain," she said.