This is one of those stories that defies belief. In short, the grave of an elderly woman, the mother-in-law of Chris Hall, who breeds guinea pigs in Newchurch and whose family and community have been targets of Animal Rights threats and intimidation, has been desecrated:
Animal rights activists are being questioned after the body of an elderly woman whose family breed guinea pigs for medical research was dug up in a graveyard.
The coffin of Gladys Hammond, who died in 1997, was removed and her remains disturbed at St Peter’s Church in Yoxall, near Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire.
The 82-year-old’s family has been the target of protests in recent years because of its connection with the Darley Oaks Farm in neighbouring New-church, where guinea pigs are bred for research.
Det Chief Insp Nick Baker said last night: “It is above any issue of protest or cause. This is sick and depraved. We should just focus on that.”
Asked about possible links to animal rights protests, he added: “It is one of the lines of inquiry we are looking into.
“Gladys Hammond was a relative of the Hall family who have been the subject of protests and intimidation by animal rights protesters.”
The officer refused to elaborate on the extent of the damage to the grave but described it as a “very sensitive issue” which had distressed Mrs Hammond’s family.
The attack, which is thought to have taken place in the past three days and has shocked the community, was condemned by the police and church leaders. The Archdeacon of Lichfield, the Ven Chris Liley, said those responsible had “violated” a place of peace.
“Once that begins to happen, a line has been crossed in civilised society,” he said.
[ ... ]
Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant expressed his disgust.
He alleged it could be the latest in a long series of attacks by “so-called animal rights activists” on owners, workers, relatives and friends of people associated with the farm over many years.
The Conservative MP said: “This is one of the sickest things I have heard of in recent years.”
Last night Sarah Dixon, of Save Newchurch Guinea Pigs, a group which carries out weekly protests outside the farm and has carried details of attacks on the family on its website, denied any involvement in the incident.
She said: “This is certainly nothing to do with Save Newchurch Guinea Pigs’ campaign. I don’t know who would do something like this.
“We report things that happen on our website both good and bad like a newspaper does but it doesn’t mean we condone them. We certainly would not condone this.”
It is important to keep in mind that Ms Dixon of SNGP denies that her group was involved with this outrageous incident, and for the time being, I'll accept that Animal Rights extremists are not the perps (innocent until proven guilty, and all).
But that is irrelevant to the point I wish to make.
Clearly, Ms Dixon cannot bring herself to condemn the act of grave desecration. Instead, she seeks refuge behind the tepid AR caveat of "not condoning" an act that by any civilized standard is despicable.
Ms Dixon has condemned the Halls for raising guinea pigs for research - indeed she's dedicated a substantial portion of her life to bring their business down because she believes their treatment of animals to be beyond the pall.
But when it comes to the desecration of a human grave, she can only produce the tepid AR caveat of "not condoning" the act.
"Not condoning" grave desecration is a statement of neutrality - really no different than "not condemning" it, and regardless of who desecrated the grave (whether an AR extremist or not), or for what reasons or cause the act was done, there's only one word for Ms Dixon's position: despicable.