Shamrock Farm protest
monkey breeding farm targeted
23rd Aug 1999
Two people have been arrested during a series of violent scuffles at a protest march by animal rights protesters through a Sussex village.
More than 200 demonstrators had staged a peaceful rally outside Shamrock Farm in Small Dole, near Henfield, West Sussex, for two hours without incident before some decided to stage the march and hand out leaflets. They were opposing the farm's importation of macaque monkeys into Britain to be used in medical testing.
As they approached the village, police formed a cordon blocking the road and tensions flared between the two sides. A protester wearing a black combat suit with a black cloth over his mouth was pulled from the crowd and taken away by police.
Then, around 20 people climbed into a field to the side of the cordon and scuffles broke out as the police tried to arrest them. Around 100 protesters made their way through the field to the back of the farm where police had formed a cordon using officers in riot gear with dogs.
The organiser of the earlier peaceful protest outside the farm, Toni Vernelli, of the Brighton-based Save the Shamrock Monkeys campaign, said monkeys were kept there for six to eight weeks before being supplied to medical laboratories throughout Britain for use in testing.
She said the group wanted to make residents living near the farm aware of what it is used for. A spokeswoman for the farm, which imports macaque monkeys from south east Asia and keeps up to 300 at a time, said it was a "legitimate" business. "We do not do experiments here and we do not breed," she said. "What we do is import them and sell them to medical laboratories, predominantly in the UK." She added that the farm was fully licensed and regularly inspected by the Home Office. It adhered to strict guidelines governing the transportation and quarantine of its monkeys.
"As long as our activity continues to be licensed we will carry on," she said. "We believe what we are doing is right." Ms Vernelli said protesters were celebrating closing Hill Grove cat farm in Oxfordshire last week. She said: "The focus of today is that we broke Hill Grove and we can close Shamrock. Even if it takes two years we will still be here." Ms Vernelli denounced violent action, saying people power had closed Hill Grove Farm and would close Shamrock Farm.