SHAC- Letter from Heather Nicholson VM 4859 serving 11 years for animal rescue

Mandy in Camden | 22.02.2009

From Heather Nicholson, VM 4859, HMP Bronzefield, Woodthorpe Road, Ashford, Ashford, Middx, TW15 3JZ
Dear Friends,
I am very grateful for your support. Words can never adequately express what it means to me and how much you have helped me. Your support for me means that you support the animals and that brings me some comfort.

I spoke up for the animals in court while I was being questioned for nearly 4 whole days. It was frustrating though & I came out feeling as if I had said about 1% of what i had intended to say. I am heartbroken as always for the animals still suffering at the hands of the cowards at HLS. It makes me cry to think that they (the animals) have no idea that anyone cares. It is frightening that they have so many powerful enemies.

I predicted that there would be no justice & that the media would be vile & untruthful * I was right. Any attack on us is an attack on the animals. i don't mind if the truth is reported as long as it is relevant but the news has been massively distorted, to say the least, ( especially calling me "mastermind"!) The press were only in court at the start & very end of the three-mont trial so what they reported was fed to them by the police plus what they made up (see Daily Mail!!!).

Claims of impartiality are nonsense & the police & the press were practically snoggning each other every time the jury left the courtroom. in over 4000 pages of covert audio surveillance, not once did I say anything that amounted to blackmail or committing an illegal act. there was no evidence that I had ever made an "unwarranted demand with menaces" because I haven't. The judge agreed with me & said that I was quite right when I said that I hadn't sent nasty things through the post, damaged anyone's property, threatened anyone etc - nor was I accused of doing so. the crazy thing is that you don't have to do anything to be convicted of conspiracy but the sentences are long (even longer for us!!!). I have just been sentenced to 11 years in prison. It is just insane - even if I had been guilty. The guards at court were angry & bemused by the 'guilty' verdicts & sentences. i could give you hundreds of examples of horrific crimes that have received lesser sentences than mine ( and I have never hurt anyone in my life!). Here is just a small selection:

(i) a woman held down two children to be raped - 8yrs.
(ii) Two men got drunk & punched a random passerby to death - 3 yrs
(iii) Three men raped a 14 yr old girl & filmed it - then they poured caustic soda over her -9yrs, 7yrs, 5yrs
(iv) Anyone who tortures and kills an animal or is cruel in any way will never get more than 6 months
(v) People who kill others in a hit & run sometimes get as little as 4 months
(vi) A woman killed her baby - 5 yrs
(vii) A man stamped on another man's head & left him in a wheelchair for life 7 yrs

I don't regret going to trial because my words are recorded forever by the court, so if someone in 50 years time does some research they will see that what was said in court bears little resemblance to what was reported. The media have shamelessly deceived the public. My biggest concern though was that the worst photo that has ever been taken of me was on television all night long!!! I looked like something out of Silent Witness!

SHAC is a phenomenal ground0breaking campaign that has shaken the vivisection industry to the core by totally legitimate means. i am not saying that unjust laws should not be broken - after all it is the 'law' that allows such suffering of animals. And that law is wrong. A few years ago tony Blair had a secret meeting with GSK, Novartis & others who told him that unless he sorted out the animal rights activist they ( the drug companies) would leave the UK. (Now that's BLACKMAIL!!) It was no coincidence that we were raided in May 2007 a matter of weeks before Tony Blair quit.

My conscience is more than clear & I am extremely proud of everything that I have helped to achieve over the years. I am proud that I didn't sit back & cry in my armchair about how awful animal cruelty is but actually tried to change things & I made a stand against cruelty & oppression. I said in court to the jury that in time people would look back in horror at this trial & say "was it really legal to do that to animals & did they really put people in prison for trying to stop it?

We were very unlucky to have such a cold, heartless, callous jury who clearly didn't care about people or animals. some were seen giggling & sniggering with the police while barristers were making their closing speeches. I will never understand how they could sit and watch puppies being punched in the face and then find any of us guilty.

when i gave evidence i asked the jury if they would object, complain or intervene if someone dragged a dog into court & started punching her and, if they would, then perhaps they should be stood in the dock with me! i wonder if they are all happy now in the knowledge that WE are initial and not a single person in the courtroom ( apart from us and some supporters in the public gallery) would ever speak out or take action to stop the atrocities occurring inside HLS. Clearly no-one on the jury would have lifted a finger to help any animal (or person) in danger. Watching the New York airplane's emergency landing in the Hudson river, I thought it was wonderful to see the ferries rushing to help save the passengers, throwing life jackets -and then hearing the survivors speaking so emotionally about their frightening experience and expressing their deep gratitude to the brave pilot and the people who didn't hesitate to help them. we all hope, pray and sometimes expect to be save when we are in danger.

It breaks my heart that so many people in the world and billions of animals can scream and struggle and plead, and no-one comes to their rescue. I can't bear it. to rescue is at the heart of my being and that is all that I have ever wanted to do. It is my motivation for campaigning against cruelty. all of you who have carried on the SHAC campaign ( and others) - you have my utmost respect and admiration . Thank you.

The support for all of us in here from other prisoners and officers continues to be amazing. They too are bemused and angry at the verdict. They express to us their feelings of outrage at the injustice of the convictions and the sentences. i always said that I would not be devastated if found guilty ( I'm not) and wouldn't be celebrating if found not guilty. The only losers are the animals at HLS and they are still suffering. The sentences passed down to us were a victory for sadism, greed and cowardice. The compassionate and brave have lost their freedom ........for now.!!!

I am enormously proud and in awe of the activists that i stood side by side with in court - Gregg, Natasha, Gavin, Dan Amos, dan Wadham and Gerrah. They are all exceptional, selfless people and have all conducted themselves with greta courage and dignity throughout this whole circus. I will never forget Gavin and Dan Wadham's evidence in the witness box. They were superb.

sometimes I feel like I am living on the wrong plane because for me it is natural to run to the aid of others and to speak out when something is wrong and here i am imprisoned for 11 years. it is ingrained in me to be kind, it always has been and always will be and it is baffling to me that others can be so cruel. i will never understand it as long as i live. all I can do is try and stop it.

The prison sniffer dogs have just been around and have totally made my day. i sat on the floor cuddling sam ( looks like my Laddie) and tears were pouring down my face. those dogs filled me with such energy and strength and warmth and love.

Please don't ever stop fighting for the abused animals.

My time in here hasn't been wasted because, in case you haven't heard, we have managed to have all the budgies and cockatiels here sent to a sanctuary and good homes. Bronzefield is now animal-free - as it should be. I am also doing my best to help as many troubled people in here as I can and gaining diplomas in animal care/health and veterinary nursing and will come out of prison a greatly improved and more knowledgeable person.

I want to thank you again so much for your support. It means the world to me.

Lots of love,

Heather xxxxxx

"Never, never be afraid to do what is right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way". (Martin Luther King)

Mandy in Camden
Homepage: http://www.myspace.com/stopcamdenanimallab