Ministers are targeted by letter bombs

Animal rights extremists are thought to be behind four letter bombs sent to senior politicians and two Scottish companies yesterday. William Waldegrave, the Minister of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, Tom King, a former Defence Secretary, a fur warehouse in Glasgow and a healthcare company in Edinburgh each received a bomb. No group has claimed responsibility for the devices but they bear the hallmarks of a group called the Justice Department, which believes in using violence against the people it considers responsible for animal abuse.

The first device, addressed to Mr Waldegrave, was sent to his family farm in Chewton Mendip, Somerset.

It was spotted by a postman and dismantled by a bomb disposal team. It is being examined at the Forensic Science Laboratory in Chepstow, while Avon and Somerset detectives have begun an investigation. The envelope had a London postmark.

Mr Waldegrave is believed to have been targeted because of his perceived lack of action in stopping the live animal export trade and for the slow progress in banning veal crates across Europe.

In January, two packages booby-trapped with razor blades were sent to Mr Waldegrave's London home. Threatening letters were posted to him after the disclosure that calves from his farm were being exported to the Continent where veal crates are common.

His farm has also been the scene of protests by animal rights activists and opponents of the Criminal Justice Act.

Mr Waldegrave's wife Caroline, owner of the Pru Leith School of Cookery in London, also angered animal rights campaigners by writing about the merits of Dutch veal, produced in crates.

William Waldegrave last night dismissed the bombing attempt as "stupidity".

Mr Waldegrave said: "It is ironic that the British Government, which is leading the way to higher welfare standards in Europe, should be subject to this sort of thing."

"This won't have the slightest affect on policy because in a free society there are always going to be a few eccentrics who do daft things like this, and ministers in all countries just have to get used to it."

Animal rights groups moved swiftly to distance themselves from the extremists.

Peter Stevenson, Compassion in World Farming's political and legal director, said: "We are utterly appalled at this kind of action or any violent protest for that matter. People like this are ruining our protests by eroding public sympathy for a perfectly legitimate cause.

The second bomb, addressed to Mr King, now a backbencher, was intercepted at Westminster.

A third was intercepted and made safe in the postroom of Ethicon, which makes sutures, at a plant in Edinburgh.

Staff at the factory, which includes an animal testing laboratory, were evacuated while the bomb was made safe.

"There's no reason for us to be a target. We test our products for efficiency. We do not consider ourselves to be doing anything other than the most rudimentary tests," said Graeme Crawford, a spokesman for the company.

The final device was destroyed in a controlled explosion at the Alaska Fur Company in Glasgow's city centre.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Life and Style
Men with beards rejoice: Your beard probably doesn't harbour faeces-like bacteria
health
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before