Home Information Cases Smithkline Beecham PLC v (1) Greg Avery (2009)

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Smithkline Beecham PLC v (1) Greg Avery (2009)

Summary

It was appropriate to grant an injunction to restrain animal rights protestors, who were members or supporters of unincorporated associations which were said to be concerned with illegal activities, from trespass and from harassment of a defined group of protected persons. The court determined the appropriate representatives for the protected persons and for the associations.

Facts

The applicants (S), a group of pharmaceutical companies and an individual, applied for an injunction to restrain the respondent animal rights protestors (G, W and M) from trespass and from harassment of a defined group of protected persons. S were customers of a research company that performed tests on animals. They brought the action on behalf of the protected persons. G, who was serving a prison sentence, and M were persons named as representative of members and supporters of the unincorporated association, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC). W was named as representative of the members and supporters of the unincorporated association, Animal Liberation Front (ALF). It was acknowledged that a restraining order was inevitable. The order sought would limit protests to prevent harassment by, among other means, defining demonstration areas and exclusion zones. The issues were whether (i) the corporate applicants could claim an order under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 to protect their employees and others; (ii) the individual applicant was the appropriate person to represent the protected persons; (iii) an injunction against W would be appropriate and whether he should be made a representative for the ALF; (iv) M and G should be made representatives for the SHAC.

Held

(1) In accordance with s.1(1A), in particular s.1(1A)(c), a person was not to pursue a course of conduct that involved harassment of two or more persons and by which he intended to persuade any person not to do something that he was entitled to do or to do something that he was not under any obligation to do. The provision could be read as covering companies who were harassed, and "person" in s.1(1A)(c) was not limited to individuals and may be a body corporate. Thus the corporate applicants were entitled to claim relief under s.1(1A). (2) It would be impossible for the individual applicant to obtain consent of all persons to represent them. Consent was not required, John v Rees (1970) Ch 345 Ch D and Emerald Supplies Ltd v British Airways Plc (2009) EWHC 741 (Ch), (2009) CP Rep 32 considered. The protected persons had a common interest in preventing acts of harassment by animal rights activists acting in the names of SHAC or the ALF, and the individual applicant was an appropriate person to represent them, EDO MBM Technology Ltd v Campaign to Smash EDO (2005) EWHC 837 (QB) applied. (3) In view of the evidence and the application of the correct standard in proving the underlying facts in respect of W, the grounds for an injunction against W personally were made out, H (Minors) (Sexual Abuse: Standard of Proof), Re (1996) AC 563 HL and B (Children) (Sexual Abuse: Standard of Proof), Re (2008) UKHL 35, (2009) 1 AC 11 applied and R (on the application of McCann) v Manchester Crown Court (2002) UKHL 39, (2003) 1 AC 787 considered. W was someone who would provide active support and encouragement for the illegal activities of the ALF behind the scenes. That was what he had done in the past. He had not said that he had changed and regretted what he had done. Further, he remained the press officer for the ALF, an organisation whose aims were stated to involve illegal conduct. By remaining press officer he showed his continuing approval of the ALF and its means of operation. Accordingly, there was a substantial risk that he would aid, abet, counsel or procure illegal conduct against S in the future. Given the nature of the conduct threatened it was clearly just and appropriate that he should be restrained from that conduct. Furthermore, there could be no doubt that W was an appropriate person to be a representative for the ALF, particularly given that he was a press officer of the ALF and he had spoken for ALF for many years. (4) M was a central figure in SHAC, which was clearly shown to be an organisation concerned with the carrying out of illegal acts. He was somebody who had appeared on SHAC protests. He was a man who favoured criminal conduct and encouraged others to adopt it. The case for an injunction was made out both on the basis that he was otherwise likely to carry out acts sought to be injuncted and on the basis that he was likely to aid, abet, counsel or procure others to do so. In view of what M had done for SHAC, he was the appropriate person to be a representative for the SHAC. As regards G, it was appropriate that he should be subject to an injunction when he was released from prison. There could be no doubt, given his central position in SHAC, that he should also be a representative for the SHAC.

Application granted

Queen's Bench Division
Jack J
Judgment date
26 June 2009
References

​LTL 1/7/2009