04 August 1999
Extremists deny beef link to arson

By FWi staff

ANIMAL rights extremists have denied that two arson attacks last weekend were timed to coincide with the lifting of the world-wide ban on British beef exports.

The beef ban, which was imposed by the European Commission in the wake of the BSE crisis in 1996, was lifted last Sunday (1 August).

Within hours, damage estimated at up to £1 million was caused by two arson attacks on a dairy and a poultry plant in Oxfordshire last Sunday evening.

Incendiary devices destroyed 17 lorries at the Unigate dairy in Oxford just half an hour after four vehicles were destroyed at Tadmartin Products of Banbury.

A spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) said it was unlikely that a poultry plant and a dairy would have been targeted because the beef ban was lifted.

But he added: “I am absolutely confident that it was an ALF attack.”

A Unigate spokeswoman said that company officials received no warning before the attack and had no idea why the dairy had been fire-bombed.

“We dont understand at all why we were targeted – we find it completely inexplicable,” she said.

About 350 campers were evacuated from nearby campsite before the fire at the dairy was extinguished and police described the attack as completely indefensible.

“Our view is that this is a completely criminal act committed by criminals,” said Sergeant Bob Gray of Thames Valley Police. “This is reckless vandalism.”

Forensic experts hope that two incendiary devices recovered from scene of the attacks will help pinpoint the culprits.

They are asking anyone who thinks they might have information about the attacks to come forward and are urging other meat and businesses to remain vigilant.