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SPEAK Founders Facing Imprisonment

For the past two years, SPEAK have insisted that the only reason Oxford

University have sought injunctions against the group is not to protect

themselves from illegal actions (since none but the most naive would

believe an injunction can be an effective deterrent to someone intent on

committing an illegal act), but to silence and ultimately destroy the

legitimate campaign, which has proved a thorn in their side since 2004.

The news that Oxford University is now seeking to imprison two of the

founders of SPEAK - Robert Cogswell and Mel Broughton merely serves to

illustrate what SPEAK have maintained all along. The Universitys

self-serving agenda has consistently proved that they are not the "bastion

of free speech" they claim to be; they have ridden roughshod over the

democratic principles for which this country was once known, and have

made a mockery of civil liberties in the pursuit of furthering the immoral

and fraudulent science they practise.

At the heart of this legal fiasco is the question: why has it become

illegal in this country to publicly oppose something of questionable

morality and scientific value? What crimes are the two campaigners alleged

to have committed? Have they been exposed for committing illegal

actions in the pursuit of their goal? Well, heres the odd thing: no. And

thats because SPEAK has always operated within a legal framework. The

truth is that Robert Cogswell and Mel Broughton have been charged with no

offence and have committed no illegal act. Given which, it does seem

rather peculiar that they might end up serving a custodial sentence for

crimes they havent committed

So what is their alleged crime? Its quite simple really: they are

facing imprisonment not for what they have done but for what they have

said. Yes thats right, in the 21st century in Blairs Britain, two people

are possibly facing prison because they have dared to speak out against

something they object to, yet have broken no laws and committed no

crime. Is this democracy?

The current proceedings were a knee-jerk response to a web posting on

16th October, when the campaign went public with the name of the builder

of the Oxford animal torture lab. Solicitors for the University lost no

time in scurrying to the High Court to seek an interim Order to ban

SPEAK from naming the building contractor. Since the British legal system

appears to have been hijacked by big business, the result was a

foregone conclusion. Exploiting the Protection from Harassment Act 1997,

initially put on the statute books to protect vulnerable women, corporations

are being enabled to render illegal today what was legal yesterday. It

would appear that if you have enough money, you are able to both abuse

and misuse the English legal system, tailoring the law to suit your own

needs at any given time.

Robert Cogswell and Mel Broughton were summoned to appear at the High

Court in the Strand in London on the 19th October. In what can only be

described as a complete travesty of justice of the sort more

characteristic of oppressive regimes, the two were denied any legal

representation, were not afforded the opportunity of seeing legal documents before

the proceedings, and found themselves having to face the court without

any legal knowledge or legal experience whatsoever, unaware of what

charges were being made against them. Furthermore, the judge dismissed the

media from the courtroom on the grounds that references would be made to

the name of the laboratory builder. This was slightly flawed logic,

given that the builders name is well-known, and still appears on major

news service websites.

So, to recap: the two accused had no legal representation, had not

received the legal papers they were entitled to see before going to Court,

and were having to defend themselves in a closed courtroom against a

team of lawyers representing Oxford University, who lest it be

forgotten - are being funded by the Government. That means taxpayers money -

your money is being used to facilitate a miscarriage of justice.

The two SPEAK representatives requested an adjournment so that they

could mount a proper defence to challenge the accusations in the hefty

legal bundles, which they had been given only 5 minutes to look through.

However, despite this obvious injustice among a number of others, their

request for an adjournment was denied and the hearing went ahead, with

the outcome that Robert Cogswell and Mel Broughton were banned from

naming the builder. Even more bizarre is the fact that the two were next

ordered to disclose the names of all those who manage the SPEAK website,

are responsible for the management of SPEAK and those responsible for

writing the article in which the builder was named. SPEAK were also

asked to hand over the list of those who have subscribed to its email alert

list. Obviously, this had absolutely nothing to do with Oxford

University protecting themselves from illegal action but was purely a fishing

expedition and an attempt by the university to destroy SPEAK.

SPEAK would like to reassure those that have subscribed to our email

alerts that your identities are totally safe; they are not controlled by

SPEAK in the UK but by supporters outside the UK, so no matter what

happens, our email alert list will never fall into the hands of Oxford

University. Our supporters safety is paramount to us and every precaution

has been taken to secure the civil liberties and freedoms to which you

should be entitled in a real democracy.

When we began the campaign in March 2004, we predicted that the battle

over the Oxford lab would be a David and Goliath struggle, and that has

proved an accurate summation. Pitched against us are Oxford University,

the British Government and all the institutions that the government

controls. If they werent worried, they wouldnt be trying to imprison two

of SPEAKs founders.

What we are seeing here is a possible taste of things to come. Make no

mistake: the whole movement must be alert to the dirty tricks the

animal abuse industries are prepared to use to ensure our silence. Today it

might be SPEAK representatives facing imprisonment, but who will it be


SPEAK are confident that whatever happens in the High Court on the 19th

December, it wont be the end of the campaign. We firmly believe that

strength comes from adversity and that these difficulties are merely

stepping stones towards a consolidation of our strength as a growing

global movement. We firmly believe that the campaign will become stronger

and more determined to stop the torture, maiming and killing of more

non-human animals. Oxford Universitys misuse of the British legal system

to pursue its own ends has exposed its rotten underbelly, but it has

also done us the favour of increasing support for our cause. What Oxford

University and the British government have failed to grasp is that an

ideal is unstoppable - you cannot imprison it and you cannot kill it.

We ask that you stay with us for the journey ahead. It promises be an

exciting one, and even if it may seem rocky at times, we have the end in

sight. It is imperative now more than ever before that we do not

falter in our commitment, and that we keep the prize in mind at all

times. Victory will not only mean an end to the maiming and torture in

vivisection laboratories of millions of sentient creatures; it will also

offer real hope for those struck down with illness, who are being misled

by the vivisection industry into believing that success in finding cures

is guaranteed, as long as scientists continue to use animals for

research. Half our battle is persuading people that the facts presented by

the scientific community are only a carefully selected portfolio of

sound bites that conceal a great deal more than they ever reveal. Winning

that battle is as important as the moral/ethical debate. The struggle

for animal rights is also a struggle for human rights; it is a struggle

that opposes a system, which places profits before the lives of both

its human and non-human victims.

In pursuing this goal, SPEAK needs your support; just as importantly at

this critical time, so do Robert Cogswell and Mel Broughton, SPEAKs

founder members. Oxford University and the Government want to hide behind

the safety net of the closed court to conceal the repressive measures

that are being used to stifle legitimate opposition to a moral and

scientific outrage. We cannot and must not allow that to happen in a free

and democratic society. A travesty of justice is taking place. Remember

that it is not just our liberty that is at stake here the

repercussions extend to the wider animal rights movement and beyond. Do not become

invisible, for if you become invisible, the animals will have no one

left to champion their cause. Let your opposition to these proceedings be

heard, and join those who refuse to be cowed into silence by the


A demonstration will be held outside the High Court in the Strand

London on the 19th December. We need a big turnout, so please show your

support by attending. More information about the demo will be posted in the

next few days. Updates about the proceedings will be posted on the

SPEAK website over the next week.

Together we can and will win.

Please cross post this article to as many friends, email lists and news

service websites as possible and all subsequent postings.

Thank you for your support.

217 Posts
And lets remember where all the judges are from again, ahh yes thats it

Oxford University, just like the judges in the case where Mel Broughton got taken to court when the uni wanted him banned from Oxford, all the judges again were from Oxford Uni!!!!

Liek he is really going to get a fair trial. Makes me sick.

And to see that at hte same time as Mel and Robert Cogswell not being allowed legal aid , the Sohum muderer & rapist and peodophile Ian Huntly is to be given legal aid!!!!!!!

More proof and where the government has their priorities- "yes lets help people who rape,torture and kill children but not those who name building companies.Lets give peodophiles a nice big house right next to a school, lets put Mel in prison for years on end for naming a building company!!!!!"

Nice to know where the government has its priorities! Vivisection labs more improtant than innocent children being abused , scard for life, their lives destroyed.

Makes me sick.

Good luck Mel and Robert.


A demonstration will be held outside the High Court in the Strand

London on the 19th December. We need a big turnout, so please show your

support by attending. More information about the demo will be posted in the

next few days. Updates about the proceedings will be posted on the

SPEAK website over the next week.

Together we can and will win.
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