Animal Rights

“It’s not right when you are checking under your tractor for bombs” says farmer targeted by extremist

A sheep farmer has been granted a restraining order against a vegan activist after she branded his family ‘murderers’ and confronted him at farm shows.

Father-of-two John Wood, 47, from Wimborne Minster, Dorset, UK, was briefed by counter terror police and feared vegans had planted bombs under his tractors.

The sheep farmer had created the ‘Meat & Greet British Farming’ Facebook page last year to ‘educate the public in farming practices’ and celebrate British agriculture.

But Mr Wood was the target of vile abuse and extremists sent him, his wife Karen, 42, and children aged 12 and 15 a series of death threats.

Mr Wood reported mother-of-three Emma Christoforakis, 37, from Dorset to the police.

Mrs Christoforakis, who describes herself as a ‘militant vegan’, was charged with harassment after she travelled to Mr Wood’s farm and shouted: ‘How many sheep die? You are murderers.’ 

She also confronted him at Bournemouth farming events.

The activist denied wrongdoing but was found guilty at Poole Magistrates’ Court of harassing Mr Wood for eight months between February and October 2018.

She was handed a two-year restraining order from contacting the Wood family or travelling within 200 yards of their land.

The mother-of-three was also given an 18-month conditional discharge on top of a £400 compensation charge to the victim and £620 court costs.

Mr Wood was warned by police, after he contacted them, of the violent history of groups such as the international Animal Liberation Front (ALF) that engages in direct action in pursuit of animal rights.

He said: “It’s not been an easy 18 months. 

“When you have counter terror police warning you what could happen and what has happened in the past, it’s scary. 

“In 2019, it should not be happening.

“When you’re looking under your tractors in the morning for bombs, nobody should be living like that. 

“I don’t say to anybody, ‘If you don’t eat meat, you’re scum’. If I did that I’d be branded a lunatic – these people go out regularly and do the opposite, it’s not acceptable.”

The ALF carries out direct action against animal abuse in the form of rescuing animals. 

Mr Wood told the court that he believed Mrs Christoforakis was an ‘active member’ of the ALF.

Mr Wood, who has a flock of around 8,000 sheep, said he hoped he could act as a ‘trailblazer’ for farmers, and encourage those to speak out about extreme animal rights campaigners.

The Dorset farmer added that he abides by strict ethical farming standards.

A National Farmers’ Union spokesman said: “We understand and respect people’s rights to protest but this should not be allowed to interfere with our farmers’ role in producing food for the nation.”

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