Warning on animal rights attacks

SCOTLAND has been warned to brace itself for a campaign of action by the Animal Liberation Front, in the wake of a fresh attack by the extremist organisation.

Robin Webb, a spokesman for the ALF, told The Scotsman he "would not be surprised" if a rash of similar actions were executed by its members as the group tried to highlight animal cruelty north of the Border.

There have been three attacks by animal rights activists in Scotland this month and, with the ALF warning last night, laboratories and farms will be forced on to a high alert.

The attacks follow a series of incidents in England where extremist websites have posted the names and addresses of scientists and executives and urged that they should be attacked.

Last year, extremists exhumed the body of Gladys Hammond, who was related to the owners of a guinea pig breeding farm.

Lothian and Borders Police revealed yesterday that they were hunting animal rights campaigners after an attack on a dog-racing track in Armadale, West Lothian.

They said the group was separate from those responsible for attacks on deer farms in Lanarkshire and Fife.

Police said the culprits had caused extensive damage.

Armadale Greyhound Stadium is thought to have been targeted by extremists protesting about the treatment of racing greyhounds. Mr Webb said the attack would also have been planned to highlight the organisation's "greyhound awareness week" which is due to be launched next week.

The incident, which saw slogans such as "animal killers" daubed on walls and electricity supplies to the stadium cut off, has left stadium bosses with repair bills of 10,000.

One officer said: "They've drawn all over the walls with red paint. There are a few slogans up there that we're keeping under our hats for now, but it's the usual sort of 'animal murders' and the likes. We don't know how they got in yet, but we're thinking it was because of a Frontline Scotland programme about cruelty in greyhound racing."

Mr Webb defended the attack on the dog racing stadium, which is also used for speedway meetings, and said it was a legitimate target because of "well-documented" incidents of cruelty to racing greyhounds.

He said: "The fact these three attacks have all happened close together is, I would imagine, a coincidence, although I would think the two direct actions on the deer farms would have been carried out either by the same group or groups working together.

"It would not surprise me to see further activities by activists in Scotland, although I must stress I do not hear in advance of any action, regardless of where it is carried out in the country."

A spokeswoman from Lothian and Borders police confirmed that they were hunting animal rights extremists.

Nobody was available for comment at the stadium yesterday, but officials from the Edinburgh Monarchs speedway team said that they were working with the stadium operators to get things back in working order.

The attack on the dog track followed two incidents where animal rights extremists targeted deer farms. They set free eight deer kept as pets at Newmill near Lanark, but the animals were subsequently shot dead, apparently to prevent them falling into the hands of poachers. Activists also struck at a family-run deer farm near Auchtermuchty, Fife; the incident last Wednesday was the first of its kind in Scotland.

Lothian and Borders Police last night refused to comment on Mr Webb's prediction that more ALF attacks could be carried out soon.

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