Animal exports protesters avoid ban

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The Independent Online
A sheep and calf exporter failed yesterday to persuade a High Court judge to grant an injunction banning 12 named protesters from sitting down in the road in front of his lorries.

An injunction would mean that if the protesters subsequently broke the law they would be in contempt of court, whereas now their only fear is of arrest by the police. The protesters, who were supported in court by several dozens of sympathisers, argued that the injunction was an attempt to intimidate them.

Roger Mills, who runs Live Sheep Traders (Ireland), sends exports of live animals regular- ly through the Essex port of Brightlingsea.

Mr Mills was seeking the injunction against the protesters, who included a hairdresser, a home help, two nurses and two housewives, whom he alleged were members of a group known as Bale - Brightlingsea Against Live Exports. Up to three thousand protesters a day have been demonstrating at the port over the past six months.

Richard Tyson, for Mr Mills, argued that because the 12 had protested in the past and some had been arrested and charged with unlawfully obstructing the highway, and because they supported the aims of the group Bale, they were likely to offend in future.

But Mr Justice Morison said that there needed to be a full argument from both plaintiff and defence, weighing up the demonstrators right to lawful protest against the exporter's right to continue his lawful trade.

He said that the court would have a full hearing as soon as possible. It would probably be in the week beginning 11 September.

Richard Barton, for the defendants, told the judge that his clients were not prepared to give an undertaking not to sit in front of lorries until there had been a full argument in court over what constituted a lawful protest.