Four Animal Rising protesters fined £60,000 for disrupting English Greyhound Derby

Three of the Animal Rising protesters who disrupted the English Greyhound Derby.
Credit: Animal Rising
Three of the four protesters after being sentenced at Northampton Court. Credit: Animal Rising

Four animal rights activists have been fined a total of £60,000 after attempting to disrupt a greyhound race.

The defendants, who were all linked to the animal rights group Animal Rising, had tried to disrupt the English Greyhound Derby – the premier UK greyhound racing event – on July 1 last year, Northampton Magistrates' Court heard.

Alexandra Dunnet, 24 and of Market Place, East Finchley, London, Edward Allnutt, 42, Sasha Joliffe, 46, and 21-year-old Joseph Moss, all of no fixed abode, were convicted for aggravated trespass after breaking into Towcester Racecourse in Northamptonshire and trying to storm the track.

Allnutt was further charged with "going equipped to lock on", a new offence under Section 2 of the Public Order Act 2023, making him one of the first people to be convicted of this in UK legal history.

Allnutt, Moss and Joliffe were each sentenced to nine weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with Dunnett handed a six-week suspended sentence.

Demonstrators outside of the racecourse in July last year. Credit: Animal Rising.

All were ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and complete 20 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement.

But magistrates also ordered each of the four to pay compensation of £15,000 – split between Northamptonshire Police and Towcester Racecourse – in addition to costs of £850 each.

All four were made subject to a restraining order not to enter or attend any sporting activity involving greyhound racing anywhere in the UK.

Allnutt received no separate penalty for the offence of going equipped to lock on.

Ch Insp Pete Basham, who led the policing of the protest, said: "We are absolutely delighted with the sentences handed down by the court, in particular the very significant financial penalties imposed.

"They send out a clear message to people determined to disrupt perfectly legal events that their actions will not be tolerated and they risk heavy fines for breaking the law.

"Northamptonshire Police mounted a significant, but proportionate public order operation to minimise disruption and as a result public safety was maintained throughout and the spectators were able to see all races completed as scheduled."

Towcester Racecourse Credit: Towcester Racecourse

Animal Rising said it carried out the protest to "shine a spotlight on our broken relationship with animals and nature". They claim greyhound racing is an example of this, in which "man’s best friend is put in harm’s way in the name of entertainment and money-making".

A spokesperson from human rights organisation Liberty said: "This sentencing sets a really alarming precedent for protest rights. "In recent years, the government has brought in a raft of increasingly broad and vague protest offences, which have criminalised protesters and created a hostile environment for people who are trying to make their voices heard on the issues they care most about.

"It is especially worrying that even more anti-protest laws are planned to be introduced in the Criminal Justice Bill. The government should be protecting our right to protest, not chipping away at it further."

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