'National Front involved in vicious campaign'

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The Independent Online

Tanker drivers were subjected to a seven-day campaign of abuse and intimidation ranging from spitting to attempts to force their vehicles off the road during the fuel protests, the Government claimed yesterday.

Tanker drivers were subjected to a seven-day campaign of abuse and intimidation ranging from spitting to attempts to force their vehicles off the road during the fuel protests, the Government claimed yesterday.

As ministers sought to ratchet up the pressure on protest organisers, the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, published a list of 180 alleged incidents during the blockades at fuel installations during September. The exhaustive log compiled by oil companies ranges from vague claims of protesters blocking depot entrances to bricks being thrown through cab windows and drivers being followed home in the dead of night.

Despite being couched in official language with the names of locations and companies blanked out, the list conveys the vicious nature of some claimed incidents and alleges the involvement of the National Front.

Mr Straw, outlining what he said was a widespread campaign of intimidation, condemned the fact that threats were made to drivers "in personal charge of many thousands of litres of highly explosive fuel". Campaigners accused the Government and oil companies of exaggerating the scale of the incidents.

In one incident, National Front supporters placed bales of hay in an oil tanker's path, and threatened to set the hay alight. A cigarette was stubbed out on the truck. On 13 September, the report said, one driver was showered with glass when a brick was thrown through the window of his cab. In a separate incident, three people were arrested after a traffic cone was thrown through a driver's windscreen.

The dossier also cites several cases of protesters shouting "we know where you live" to drivers, and following them home. Demonstrators were also accused of threatening to publish photographs of drivers on the internet.

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