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Keith Mann is a British animal rights campaigner and writer, alleged by police to be "at the top of the Animal Liberation Front pyramid."[1] He is the author of From Dusk 'til Dawn: An Insider's View of the Growth of the Animal Liberation Movement (2007).

Benjamin Zephaniah writes that Mann is viewed as a cause célèbre within the global animal rights movement.[2] He first came to widespread public attention in 1994, after being sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for setting meat lorries on fire, one of the longest sentences to be handed down to an animal rights activist. Mann escaped from Stretford prison, and was later found at an animal sanctuary run by model Celia Hammond, who had unwittingly given Mann and his girlfriend jobs at the sanctuary, unaware that they were on the run.[3]

In an interview with The Guardian in 2005, Mann advocated a "turn to extremism" by the movement. "I would prefer that we could change things using legitimate methods that are there for changing the world," he said. "But the government have taken away their right to protest and driven people to the kind of tactics that are more productive. It is more useful to sabotage property ... All that is left now is to turn to extremism."[1]

BackgroundEdit

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Mann was raised in Rochdale, Lancashire by his father, who worked as a caretaker, and his mother, whom he describes as having done "everything else."[4]

His first job was on a dairy farm while on a youth training scheme at school. He writes in From Dusk 'Til Dawn that his lasting memory of the job is the cows crying out all day searching for the calves that had been removed from them.[5]

Animal rights activismEdit

He writes that his involvement with the Animal Liberation Front has led to the happiest and saddest times of his life, as well as danger and trauma. "There is something thrilling about this," he writes, "the rush of adrenalin that comes from facing the unknown — alarms, a chase, live animals, dead animals, prison, none or all of it."[6]

He has fallen off buildings and through a roof, jumped through a first-floor window, and swum through a river wearing wellington boots before jumping soaking wet on a bus and begging a free ride. He has been shot at, spat on, driven at, and punched, chased by men with spades, and had elephant urine thrown over him by an angry clown. He has been arrested, charged, and convicted for things he writes that he did not do, and has gone without food in prison because he was unwilling to eat animal products.[6]

Mann is considered by the police to be "at the top of the Animal Liberation Front pyramid."[1] This claim is contentious as the Animal Liberation Front is not a formal hierarchical organisation. He has acted as a spokesman for the group and attracted the support of celebrities such as Carla Lane and Celia Hammond.[7] In 1998, he predicted that someone will die as a consequence of animal experimentation, noting, "we are capable of dealing with anyone; no one has died yet, but that will come."[1]

Early lifeEdit

He first came into contact with animal rights activists in 1982, when local hunt saboteurs were handing out leaflets in the street. He writes that he was inspired by what he saw as their selflessness. His first removal of an animal from captivity was when he took a rabbit from a hutch that he used to walk past every day, after having asked the owner for weeks to do something about the rabbit's situation. He writes that this incident changed his view of "theft" forever, and that thereafter, he viewed himself as a "proud ALF activist." His next removal was of a tub of goldfish from a fairground, resulting in him having 53 goldfish in his bath for weeks until he found good ponds for them.[4] These acts of "liberation," as Mann sees them, led to others that he says he is unable to confess to.

ALF raidsEdit

Wickham LaboratoriesEdit

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His next ALF raid, together with an activist who remains unidentified,[8] Mann raided the Wickham research laboratory on 13 December 2003 and removed 695 mice that were being used to test botulinum toxin, sold commercially as Botox and Dysport. He was arrested by detectives at his home whilst cleaning his car and the mice were returned to the laboratory.[9] He argued that the tests were illegal because the product was being tested for cosmetic purposes, which is banned in Britain. The Southern Animal Rights Coalition also received paperwork which they say demonstrates cosmetic Botox was being tested on animals. [10]

A court rejected the claims, ruling that the tests were in compliance with UK regulations because Botox is used for therapeutic purposes to prevent muscle spasms. In April 2005, he was found guilty of burglary and ordered to conduct 230 hours of community service.[11]

On leaving the court, Mann threatened a director of the research company, reportedly telling him, "Your trouble has only just started, you will need to look under your bed."[12] Mann was charged with contempt of court and sentenced to six months in custody, which he served in Winchester Prison.[1]

Other convictionsEdit

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In 1994, he was sentenced to 14 years in jail, reduced to 11 years on appeal, for 21 offences including possession of explosives, incitement, criminal damage, and escape from custody. He had set a number of meat lorries on fire and, after his arrest, escaped from Stretford prison. The sentencing judge justified a lengthy custodial sentence by describing him as a "dangerous and fanatical" man whose tactics "bore all the hallmarks of terrorism."[7]

After his release on October 2005, for the Wickham raid,[13] he continued to protest against animal testing on behalf of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), which he has called "the most important campaign" in the animal liberation movement.[14][1]

Since prisonEdit

Gateway to Hell CampaignEdit

In 2007, Mann was reported as being involved in the launch of a new campaign called Gateway to Hell, aimed at "targeting airports, ports and freight firms importing animals for experimentation."[15] The National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit believes the group is closely linked with SHAC, as it used similar tactics with attacks launched against the homes of five air transport executives within days of the campaign starting.[16] Describing himself as a spokesman for the campaign, Mann said, "once we have stopped the airports, which we will do before too long, it is going to be difficult for them to find other ways of bringing animals in."[16]

The campaign has claimed a victory Template:Fact from the Northern Animal Rights Network (NARN), who demonstrated at Leeds Bradford International Airport (LIBA). [17] In early January 2007, LIBA announced that it had no future plans to be involved in the export or import of live animals for experimentation. Template:Fact

SPEAK PoliticalEdit

In January 2008, SPEAK Political, the political party set up to speak on behalf of animals, announced that Mann would be standing as a candidate, as well as acting as a spokesperson for the party. On his website, Mann said:

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WritingEdit

Mann's first book was published in May 2007. From Dusk 'til Dawn, with a foreword by British poet Benjamin Zephaniah and featuring Britches on its cover, offers a behind-the-scenes account of the animal liberation movement. [18]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

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External linksEdit

Videos


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