the winter of 1994, a group of terrified young calves were
flown from Coventry, England to end their lives in Dutch veal
crates. A few people started protesting at the airport gates;
Jill Phipps was one. As a transporter came down the road to
the gates she would run to it, shouting at the drivers to
think about the suffering they caused. The few police there
would turn out and simply man-handle her and anyone else behaving
similarly out of the way.
came February 1, 1995. That day there were about 76 police
there and about 32 demonstrators. Jill and a few others eluded
the police, most of who were in a van at the back, and reached
the transporter truck. Any good driver would have stopped
until it was safe to continue, but Stephen Yates just drove
was crushed and died on the way to hospital. Our mother, Nancy,
was with her. The driver has never been charged. At the inquest
the police stated that their actions had been planned by a
specialist tactician, and that the day had been very sucessful..."
- Zab Phipps
Forgive, Never Forget
February 1, 2005, marked the ten-year anniversary of the killing
of UK animal rights campaigner Jill Phipps. While tragic and
heartbreaking, Jill’s death served to galvanize the
animal rights community in England, with the movement adopting
purple—Jill’s favorite color—as a symbol
for animal rights.
also marks the killing of UK hunt saboteur Mike Hill, who
died on February 9, 1991.
Jill and Mike are not the only activists who have been killed
while fighting for the animals. Since they began to effectively
spread the message of compassion, those who fight for the
rights of non-human animals have been portrayed as violent
thugs bent upon damaging property and intimidating normal
law- abiding people for no apparent reason. Tom Worby, a hunt
saboteur from the UK, as well as several environmental activists,
is among the many who have been killed by those who kill the
earth and animals. Their deaths have had a tremendous impact
on the movement and those who were close to them. UK activist
John Curtin, a friend to Jill, Mike, and Barry Horne, talks
about his experiences and the impact their lives and deaths
been asked to write an article about friends of mine who have
died while fighting for animal liberation - Mike Hill, Jill
Phipps and Barry Horne. Others have died, but this article
is just some simple reflections upon the people I knew as
Hill was killed by hunt-blood junkie Alan Summersgill on Feb
9, 1991. Mike was a lovely, young, anarcho activist –
he was only 18 years old when his life was wiped out by hunt
filth. I’d met him on demos and hunt sabs and we just
simply “clicked” with each other. I remember him
giving me a huge bag of coins at a demo against beagle breeders,
Perrycroft Lodge (which was, soon after, closed down). He’d
collected the money by doing stalls, because on the previous
occasion that I’d seen him I’d told him that we
needed to raise some money for a forthcoming liberation raid.
was gutted when I got the news that a sab had been killed
and devastated when I found out an hour later that it was
Mike. He’d been out sabbing the Cheshire Beagles Hunt.
I’d been due to go on the sab that day and afterwards
we were all going to go to a benefit gig, but the weather
was so bad that day that many roads were simply impassable.
I can remember skidding out of control in a car with Keith
Mann on the motorway before we abandoned our efforts to get
to the sab. Blood junkies, being what they are, still need
their fix of violence no matter how atrocious the weather.
The local sabs had a successful day in preventing them from
cut a very long story short, as the sun was setting that day
Mike was run over by Summersgill, who then drove home. The
police immediately deemed it to be a “tragic accident”
and never investigated the “incident” or brought
charges against Summersgill.
attitude was “there’s no justice -- just us.”
I went up to Freshfields Animal sanctuary, where Mike lived.
A Crass record was on his turntable, and “fuck the police”
and anti-war posters adorned his caravan walls. I was so sad
and so fuckin’ angry.
organized a “demo” two days later at the hunt
kennels, which is also where Summersgill’s house was.
Despite the short notice, 150 of us turned up. Perhaps not
the ideal situation for a riot is when the police and media
cameras are already there as you arrive, but we didn’t
care – they were irrelevant. That house was going to
get smashed to pieces, and that’s just what we did.
God knows what we would have done if he had been at home!
got arrested 3 times that day and each time I was liberated
by my friends – it was amazing to see how powerful and
unpoliceable (if there is such a word) we were that day. Only
one person was actually detained at the scene. Again to cut
a long story short, I was captured months afterwards and served,
along with 8 others, a year in prison. I didn’t regret
one moment of it, though (apart from being so crazed with
grief and anger that I didn’t even bother to wear a
face mask – oops!!). That house was later burned to
the ground, and Summersgill went into hiding.
expected to get arrested at the funeral, but the police must
have been so freaked out by how fierce we’d been at
the hunt kennels that they left us well alone. As they lowered
the coffin into the ground, we (with the permission of Mike’s
parents) shouted out, “What do we want? Animal liberation.
When do we want it? Now! Are we gonna fight for it? Yes! Did
Mike Hill die for it? Yes! Are we gonna get it? YES!”
followed Mike’s death was a huge upsurge in activities
of all sorts, especially anti– hunt and A.L.F. actions.
The number of A.L.F. actions that took place in the northwest
of England, where Mike had been living, reached unprecedented
levels, and all the hunts in the Cheshire area were constantly
all I’ve got to say about Mike. As for Jill. . .in many
ways, at least in my mind, she and Mike were kindred spirits
– punky, anarcho free spirits who were as gentle as
lambs unless they came up against injustice and violence against
those unable to defend themselves. They were both involved
in other struggles - for human as well as animal liberation
(anyway we are all animals, but you know what I mean).
was one of my best mates. She and her mum Nancy were the first
lib loonies I ever met when I went to a public talk given
by Kim Stallwood in our hometown of Coventry, back in 1983.
Jill’s first impression of me wasn’t so great,
though – I was so keen to “get up and at ’em”
that she told Nancy not to tell me nothing coz she reckoned
I was an undercover copper! However, once she checked out
my local punk credentials and got to know me a bit we soon
became “partners in crime.” I have many fond memories
of going to gigs with her and smashin’ butchers’
windows afterwards. It became such a regular ritual that the
butchers got themselves together and turned up at a Conflict
gig. I think the idea was to scare us – oh, how we laughed!
A.L.F. activist days were somewhat suspended after she gave
birth to her son, Luke. She only narrowly escaped imprisonment
when she was given a suspended prison sentence for a raid
on Unilever labs. (Her mum and sister weren’t so lucky
and were imprisoned for that raid.) She still helped the local
AR group by doing stalls and going to demos. The police continued
to harass her.
was arrested and dragged all the way up to Cheshire following
the attack on Summersgill’s house after Mike was killed.
She wrote this now–poignant piece about Mike death in
an article about her arrest: “I had heard about Mike
Hill; it was a tragedy, but not really surprising, sadly,
as most of us in our time have had to face a blood–crazed,
mentally–deranged huntsman, and it was only a matter
of time before this happened”.
evidence against her was, as she herself put it, in that same
article: “for being in possession of dreadlocks, a tatty
parka and a ‘strange’ diet” - and many of
the rioters matched this description – it’s true!
She was able to prove that she’d dropped off and picked
up her son from school that day.
life was then taken over by events engineered by a scumbag
called Mr. Barrett-Jolley. He came up with the idea of flying
calves out to the veal crates of Europe from Coventry airport.
Jill focused all of her energies to stop this atrocity. Again,
to cut a long story short Jill ended up being run over by
a cattle truck on February 1, 1995. Once again the police
deemed it to be a tragic accident.
was in Liverpool at the time when I saw the news headline.
I rang up Nancy to find out what was going on and was told
that the woman who had been killed was my friend Jill. I went
straight down to Coventry, and like so many others went to
live outside the airport. From that day on, we maintained
a 24/7 vigil. After two more months of chaos the trade from
Coventry was finally stopped, and a similar surge of people
power erupted at all the other sites of live exports.
news of Jill’s death hit headlines around the world.
Her funeral was so massive that it had to be held at the cathedral
in Coventry. The year she was killed she was voted “Woman
of the Year” in a national poll (she even beat Lady
D!!!) As for Barrett-Jolley, ‘the respectable business
man,’ (who we knew at the time to be involved in arms
and drugs dealing), he is now serving 20 years in prison for
cocaine smuggling. Everyday at Coventry airport, his ‘cargo’
was given a massive police escort. He is obviously still haunted
by Jill’s death, because during his trial for the drug
smuggling case, his defense was that he was a CIA operative
and his special agent contact’s name was J Phipps.
was a beautiful person in every respect. Ten years on, we
are planning a day of remembrance in Coventry but are experiencing
one difficulty after another, as the authorities try to scupper
our plans. I have made a half–hour film about Jill’s
life; if anyone wants a copy, get in touch.
we move on to Barry. My friendship with Mike and Jill was
‘plain sailing’ compared to my stormy relation
with Barry. We had some great laughs and lots of “adventures,”
but phewee–– we used to fight like cats and dogs.
You name it, and Barry and I could find some aspect upon which
to disagree. Of course, I was always right and he was always
he was dying on hunger strike in prison, he said he wanted
me to speak at his funeral. I fully understood the practical
joke in his request, because he knew he would put me in the
impossible position of standing in front of the crowd and
not being able to start off with the usual cliché –
“My memories of Barry are that he was such a lovely,
sweet, charming man”.
putting our ‘little tiffs’ aside, Barry was a
remarkable person and a truly great fighter for animal liberation.
He had grit, determination, and unshakeable faith in direct
action and our movement, the likes of which I have never seen
And I mean that even without any reference to the incredible
bravery and dedication he showed on his hunger strike. He
was a totally full-on 100% animal liberation activist.
article is for the “No Compromise” magazine –
well, Barry was the living embodiment of NO COMPROMISE. He
lived, breathed and acted it out. Once he took a stance he
wouldn’t budge an inch – stubborn fucker!! And
that’s what made him such a great fighter. He was a
warrior in the oldest tradition – even though he didn’t
have a drop of Irish blood in him, he always felt a strong
connection with the struggle to liberate Ireland from British
rule. So maybe he was some re-incarnated Celtic warrior. An
old Irish proverb says that the Irish love a lot and hate
a lot – that’s Barry.
recollection I have of Barry sums the man up. It concerns
a raid on Harlan Interfauna (for which I was later caught
and imprisoned for 18 months). We liberated 82 beagles and
26 rabbits and caused lots of damage. We had to work through
the night ferrying the animals across the fields to the safest
spot we could find for our vehicles to hide up. Barry was
a star that night. For anyone who has had to carry animals
long distances you’ll know how hard it is. Another Irish
saying fits in perfectly here: A carried hen is a heavy hen.
Barry worked for years as a dustbin man (a refuse collector),
and that night he put all those years of “experience”
into action. I remember him kicking arses all night long as
the rest of us were flagging through sheer exhaustion: “C’mon
you pathetic vegan wimps! Move it!” It’s just
what we all needed.
was in court when Barry received his disgusting, 18–year
sentence. I sat there and listened to the prosecution lawyer
having to accept that Barry’s campaign of arson was
aimed at damaging property belonging to animal–abusing
companies and was not aimed at endangering life. Eighteen
years in prison!! Barry’s response was typical of the
man. A clenched–fist salute to us and then set about
planning the next battle in his war against animal abusers.
embarked on a series of hunger strikes relating to Tony Blair’s
broken promises concerning pre-election pledges about vivisection.
Now Barry was no liberal democrat who was horrified and outraged
that politicians had reneged on their word. No, this was a
tactical decision taken in order to highlight the whole issue
of vivisection to the general public. But more importantly,
he saw it as a way to galvanise us, the animal liberation
movement, into action, such as the vivisectors and their cohorts
had never seen the like of.
shitstem used every possible dirty trick to undermine Barry’s
incredible resilience – the dirtiest of which was to,
under the cover of darkness, to move him from the hospital,
where he’d had good access to friends and family, back
to the isolation of a prison cell. He was literally on death’s
door, but somehow he was still full of determination after
68 days on hunger strike (and this was his third hunger strike),
although his mind had become delirious. This is a neglected
aspect of hunger strikes – that after going beyond the
40–day mark, or thereabouts, it is very common for the
mental faculties to begin to seriously decline - hallucinations
etc. When he was offered food by the prison officers the next
morning, he took it, as he didn’t have any concept that
he was even on a hunger strike.
physical and mental faculties never fully recovered after
the irreparable damage caused by the series of hunger strikes,
and he died nearly 3 years later on November 5, 2001 (which
for us in England is known as bonfire night!!) whilst on yet
another hunger strike. The main reason behind the shitstem’s
dirty tricks, apart from the usual smear campaign, was that
they were fully aware of the explosion of direct action that
was primed to take place following his death – which
was all part of Barry’s incredible master plan.
all begged him not to go on any more hunger strikes coz, apart
from anything else, the movement just didn’t seem ready
to go through all that again. But he seemed intent on going
through with it, and when the news of his death did come there
wasn’t a massive immediate reaction.
could argue that by then, because of the awful toll that the
previous hunger strikes had taken on him, that he was no longer
the master tactician, but think about it: Ok, so there was
no immediate reaction, but since his death, anti-vivisection
activity has taken off all over the world – the situation
in Britain has reached a point where the pharmaceutical industry
has given an ultimatum to the government that unless they
can stop us (oh yeah, as if!), they will be forced to leave
this country – Bye!
HUGE difference between the circumstances of Barry’s
death and that of Jill and Mike’s is that Barry had
always been in control of his destiny, whereas Jill and Mike
were mercilessly mowed down and killed by animal abusers.
what is the legacy of Mike, Jill and Barry’s death and
of all the other sacrifices that we, as a movement, have had
to endure? That’s up to you, the reader of this article,
to determine. You and I both know what it is that they would
wish their legacy to be (no prizes for guessing the answer):