Local dubbed the 'face of animal rights campaign'
A WHALEY Thorns man has appeared at the High Court accused of being the 'public face' of a vicious animal rights campaign.
Robin Webb, of Portland Terrace, allegedly acts as a press officer and representative of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) –– a group currently engaged in a war of intimidation against Oxford University.
Oxford is building a state-of-the-art biomedical research laboratory and contractors have faced a wave of harassment from the ALF.
The organisation is believed to have sent threatening letters to builders working on the £18m scheme –– forcing university bosses to seek an injunction against Webb and other members of the group in March.
But last week Webb was at the High Court to challenge the injunction, arguing that the ALF 'does not exist' in the eyes of the law.
His barrister Stephanie Harrison told the court that the order violated his human right to freedom of expression and should be lifted.
Ms Harrison said Webb had no involvement in any protests against the laboratory and had not even been to Oxford for six years.
But Oxford University bosses claim Webb is the 'front person' and 'public face' of the ALF –– an organisation they describe as 'underground, criminal and arguably terrorist'.
The university's solicitor Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden claimed that Webb frequently described student bodies, which support the new laboratory, as 'legitimate targets' in media interviews.
The court also saw footage of a 1998 television documentary that showed Webb –– a National Union of Journalists member ––explaining how to make an explosive device to an undercover reporter.
But Ms Harrison said all that Webb had done was speak to the media about the protests and offer his view as to what the ALF considered legitimate targets.
She went on to say that the university's case against Webb should be struck out because the ALF 'does not have legal personality', and therefore Webb could not be treated as its representative.
High Court judge Mr Justice Irwin reserved his decision on whether to lift the injunction.
Outside the court, Webb said: "I cannot represent anonymous activists who I don't even know and there is no reason to injunct me as an individual when I haven't been to Oxford for at least six years and have taken no part in planning the protests or the protests themselves."
27 September 2006