25 October 2004.

DVLA man helped animal activists

A vehicle registration official who gave drivers' addresses to animal rights activists has been jailed for five months.

Barry Saul Dickinson, 34, of Manor Forstal, New Ash Green, Kent, was convicted at Stafford Crown Court of misconduct in a public office. He had enabled protesters to find people connected to a guinea pig farm in Staffordshire. A police spokesman said information had been used to "terrorise" families.

Insp Dave Bird of Staffordshire Police, said: "This was a breach of trust of the highest order - Dickinson abused his position as a public servant. Dickinson accessed DVLA computer systems to look up people's registration numbers.

The information he passed on enabled animal rights extremists to identify, intimidate and terrorise the families of people connected to the Hall family and their lawful business at Darley Oaks Farm, Newchurch. Four of the 13 addresses passed on were subjected to criminal damage - windows smashed, paint daubed on cars and one house was subjected to having a water hosepipe put through the letterbox.

Dickinson knew exactly what he was doing with the information he obtained and what this was going to be used for. As such, he was as involved and responsible as the extremists who actually committed these criminal acts."

Dickinson, who committed the offences between June 2002 and December last year at the DVLA's office in Sidcup, Kent, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing in September.

Police are investigating a theory that activists were responsible for stealing the remains of Gladys Hammond, 82, which were taken from a burial plot in Yoxall, Staffordshire, on 5 or 6 October. She was the mother-in-law of Chris Hall, one of two brothers who breeds guinea pigs at Darley Oaks Farm for medical research.