British ALF hunger striker Barry Horne at the verge of death

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1998:

YORK, U.K.––Convicted Animal
Liberation Front arsonist Barry Horne, 46, in the
62nd day of a hunger strike, was on December 8
in critical condition and reportedly close to lapsing
into a terminal coma.
Medical authorities said he had passed
the point of being able to make a full physical
recovery several days if not weeks earlier, and
that even if he broke the hunger strike this late,
his prognosis for survival would be shaky.
Horne undertook the strike, he said, to
protest the refusal of the Labour government led
by Prime Minister Tony Blair to call a Royal
Commission inquiry into laboratory animal use.


Home Office Minister George Howarth
responded that the government was “not prepared
to allow policy to be dictated by blackmail.”
The Animals Betrayed Coalition, supporting
the hunger strike with a web site, protests,
and press releases, insists such an inquiry was
promised, should Labour be elected––along with
the abolition of fox hunting, another promise that
Blair seemed to make before the 1997 election
campaign started, but qualified in the latter stages
of the campaign, after collecting £1 million on
the strength of the apparent promise from the
Political Animal Lobby organized by International
Fund for Animal Welfare founder Brian Davies.
Upon taking office, Blair all but rescinded opposition
to fox hunting, and obstructed a private
Member’s bill which sought to fulfill expectations
that Labour would move a ban.
As Horne approached self-martyrdom,
Blair administration spokespersons argued that the
alleged promise of a Royal Commission inquiry
was made not in the official Labour general election
manifesto, but rather in an earlier discussion
document entitled New Labour: New Life For
Animals, which never did have policy status.
This, however, further inflamed antivivisectionists.
A month after several early
November ALF vandalism and arson attacks
failed to bring more conciliatory attention from
the Blair government, ALF spokespersons turned
up the heat with a December 2 press release stating,
“The militant Animal Rights Militia,” billed
as a more violent ALF spinoff, “has announced a
list of 10 vivisectors who, it says, will be assassinated
if animal liberation hunger striker Barry
Horne dies through Labour’s broken promises.”

Hit list
Only four of the 10 purported targets
were immediately identified: Christopher Brown,
who breeds cats for laboratories at Hillgrove Farm
in Yorkshire; Oxford University researcher Colin
Blakemore, whose cat research was an early rallying
point in the 1970s and who subsequently
became the most prominent public defender of
animal research in Britain; Clive Page, of King’s
College, London; and Mark Matfield, of the
Research Defence Society.
Daily Telegraph crime correspondent
John Steele reported on December 3 that “All
four, who have long been under threat, were
alerted by Metropolitan Police Special Branch
officers. Matfield, Steele indicated, was somewhat
mystified as to why he had been receiving
threats along with the others for approximately
eight years, since “he had not done laboratory
work in 15 years and had never worked on animals
in Britain.”
There was speculation but not confirmation
as to who the other six persons threatened by
the Animal Rights Militia might have been.
Horne, transferred from Full Sutton
Prison to York District Hospital on November 24,
was sentenced to serve 18 years on November 12,
1997, for a string of 1994 arsons which did £3
million damage to various shops that carried animal
products on the Isle of Wight, and for several
1996 attempted arsons in Bristol. The most serious
charge against Horne involved an incendiary
device he allegedly placed in a leather handbag
purchased by a Mrs. Woods. Her children, ages
three and six, played with the handbag before the
device was found about four months later.
His priors included a six-month suspended
sentence in September 1988 for allegedly
trying to free a dolphin from the Marineland park
in Morecambe; a three-year sentence rendered in
November 1991 for possession of an incendiary
device; and 80 hours’ community service, issued
by the Oxford Crown Court in February 1995 for
having disrupted a scientific conference.
The likely soon-to-be-fatal hunger strike
was Horne’s third since he was imprisoned.
Reported Will Woodward of The Guardian, “His
first hunger strike, lasting 35 days, ended after a
meeting with Home Office officials. The second
lasted 46 days, until he was promised a reform of
the Animal Procedures Committee, an advisory
body which numbers 13 vivisectionists among its
17 members, according to activists.”
Woodward said Horne left school at age
15, worked as a garbage collector, and was a
motorcyclist and punk rock fan before becoming
involved with animal rights through a local group
called Northampton Animal Concern. Two early
marriages failed, each after producing children
who now are teenagers.
Horne’s 19-year-old daughter bore his
first grandchild in early December. She and
Alison Lawson, 29, identified as Horne’s girlfriend,
were among his visitors during what were
believed likely to be his last spells of ability to
converse.

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