Lynx anti-fur group faces extinction over libel loss

David Connett
Thursday 24 December 1992 00:02 GMT

LYNX, the animal rights group which drove the fur-coated classes to the brink of extinction, is itself in danger of perishing.

A court yesterday ordered that the registered charity's bank accounts be frozen after it failed to pay damages and costs after a libel trial it lost last month.

The move effectively ends the activities of Lynx, one of the most successful pressure groups of the 1980s. The charity, which boasted the support of celebrities including Neil Kinnock, Elton John and Katherine Hamnett, shot to prominence with a controversial advertising campaign.

One of the most celebrated advertisments, photographed by David Bailey, featured a model trailing blood from a full-length fur coat. The caption read: 'It took 13 dumb animals to make this and only one to wear it.' A poster featured a woman in a fur coat captioned 'rich bitch' and a photograph of a dead fox captioned 'poor bitch'.

The campaign meant Lynx, formed in 1985 by a breakaway group of Greenpeace campaigners, had remarkable early success.

Controversy grew when animal rights activists daubed red paint on women wearing fur coats.

The success of the anti-fur campaign peaked in 1990 when Harrods closed its fur department and leading furriers were forced to call in receivers as sales dropped by 50 per cent. Out of Britain's 75 fur farmers, only 29 survived the slump.

A garnishee order freezing all bank accounts operated by Lynx was issued yesterday by solicitors acting for Swalesmoor Mink Farm near Halifax, West Yorkshire.

A High Court jury in Leeds last month decided that the charity wrongly accused the farm in literature sent to MPs of running a 'hell-hole' where animals were caged in dirty, run-down conditions. Damages amounted to pounds 40,000 with costs estimated at more than pounds 100,000. A pounds 500,000 fighting fund launched by Linda McCartney before the case ended raised only pounds 10,000.

Mark Glover, founding director of Lynx, said yesterday: 'We don't know what the mink factory solicitors will do next. But, in view of today's events, we're expecting a winding-up order to be sought against us at any time. This year 50 million wild animals were gassed, strangled, trapped or electrocuted internationally. With the passing of Lynx, the main voice of protest is silenced. If this is justice, God help the animals.'

Lynx also set up three 'Cruelty Free' shops which marketed a variety of fashionable goods. A spokesman said the shop in Nottingham was closing today and the other two - in Covent Garden, London, and Cambridge - may shut shortly.

Mr Glover claimed the fur trade was behind the move against Lynx. 'A representative of the Fur Education Council sat with the owner of Swalesmoor Mink Farm throughout the libel trial, passing notes to his legal representatives. Support was given to them by the world-wide fur trade.'

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