|Born||Rochdale, Greater Manchester|
|Years active||Since 1982|
|Organization||Animal Liberation Front|
|Animal Protection Party|
Keith Mann is a British animal rights campaigner and writer, alleged by police in 2005 to be at the top of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) pyramid. He is the author of From Dusk 'til Dawn: An Insider's View of the Growth of the Animal Liberation Movement (2007). Viewed as a cause célèbre within the global animal rights movement, he has acted as a spokesman for the ALF, attracting the support of celebrities such as Carla Lane and Celia Hammond. He was the subject in 2006 of a Channel 4 documentary by Yousaf Ali Khan, Angels of Mercy?.
Mann first came to widespread public attention after being sentenced in 1994 to 14 years imprisonment, reduced to 11 years on appeal—one of the longest sentences handed down to an animal rights activist—after being arrested in 1991 for conspiracy to set meat lorries on fire and for having escaped from custody; he was found by police working in an animal sanctuary run by the Celia Hammond Animal Trust, which had employed him unaware of who he was.
He told The Guardian in 2005 that the government in the UK had undermined the right to protest, which had driven activists to engage in tactics such as economic sabotage. He has since turned his attention to mainstream politics, and stood unsuccessfully for parliament in the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency for the Animal Protection Party in the May 2010 general election. He said the point of fielding animal rights candidates was not so much to gain power, but to have a voice in the election process.
Mann was raised in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, by his father, who worked as a caretaker, and his mother, Doreen, whom he describes as having done "everything else." His mother is supportive of his animal rights activism. She spoke to Ali Yousaf Khan in 2006 for a Channel 4 documentary on Mann: "To normal people, they're going to say he had no right to touch somebody's else property ... But frustration comes in here. He's petitioned, he has asked, he's demonstrated, he's done all sorts of things to ask these people not to do this ... If they were to speak to my son now, ask him what did he see behind these locked doors patrolled by guards and dogs, what did he see that would make him so angry, that he would have to go so far and destroy somebody's property."
His first job was on a dairy farm while on a youth training scheme at school. He writes in From Dusk 'Til Dawn that his lasting memory of the job is the cows crying out all day searching for the calves that had been removed from them. He first came into contact with animal rights activists in 1982, when local hunt saboteurs were handing out leaflets in the street. His first removal of an animal from captivity was when he took a rabbit from a hutch that he used to walk past every day, after having asked the owner for weeks to do something about the rabbit's situation. He writes that this incident changed his view of theft forever, and that he thereafter viewed himself as a "proud ALF activist." His next removal was of a tub of goldfish from a fairground, resulting in him having 53 goldfish in his bath for weeks until he found good ponds for them. These acts of "liberation," as Mann sees them, led to others to which he says he is unable to confess.
He writes that his involvement with the Animal Liberation Front has led to the happiest and saddest times of his life, as well as danger and trauma. "There is something thrilling about this," he writes, "the rush of adrenalin that comes from facing the unknown—alarms, a chase, live animals, dead animals, prison, none or all of it." He has been arrested, charged, and convicted for things he writes that he did not do, and has gone without food in prison because he was unwilling to eat animal products. He has fallen off buildings and through a roof, swum through a river wearing wellington boots before jumping soaking wet on a bus and begging a free ride; has been shot at, spat on, driven at, and punched, chased by men with spades, and had elephant urine thrown over him by an angry clown.
Escape and imprisonment
Mann was first arrested on 15 October 1991 after being accused of planning to set a number of meat lorries on fire. He told Channel 4 that he and other activists were protesting against the treatment of chickens in factory farms. "We wanted to do something to stop them from doing what they were doing to the birds. ... The only alternative we had, we could have walked away, that was what we wanted to do ... But too many people walk away, which is part of the problem, part of the reason it's happening ... We thought, we'll burn the lorries. That'll stop them from doing what they're doing to the birds tonight. It'll also cost them a fair few pounds ..."
He was held on remand for 18 months, during which he was moved 19 times to different jails or police station cells across the country, which his mother said meant he had no chance to prepare his defence. On 22 June 1993, while still on remand, he escaped from Stretford police station and went on the run. He and his partner, Angela Hamp, took jobs at Celia Hammond's animal sanctuary, though Hammond had no idea at the time who they were. The police raided the sanctuary, and in 1994 Mann was sentenced to 14 years in jail, reduced to 11 years on appeal, for 21 offences including possession of explosives, incitement, criminal damage, and escape from custody.
On 13 December 2003 Mann and another activist who remains unidentified entered Wickham Laboratories and removed 695 mice being used to test botulinum toxin, sold commercially as Botox and Dysport. He was arrested at his home and the mice were returned to the laboratory. He argued that the tests were illegal because the product was being tested for cosmetic purposes, which is banned in Britain. The Southern Animal Rights Coalition also received paperwork which they say demonstrates cosmetic Botox was being tested on animals. A court rejected Mann's defence, ruling that the tests were in compliance with UK regulations, because Botox is also used for therapeutic purposes to prevent muscle spasm. In April 2005 he was found guilty of burglary and given 230 hours community service. On leaving the court, he threatened a director of the company, telling him: "Your trouble has only just started, you will need to look under your bed," as a result of which he was charged with contempt of court and sentenced to six months in custody, which he served in Winchester Prison.
Gateway to Hell campaign
In 2007 Mann was involved in Gateway to Hell, a campaign aimed at airports, ports and freight firms importing animals for experimentation. The National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit believed the group was linked to Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), an international campaign to close down Huntingdon Life Sciences, a contract animal-testing facility. The homes of five air transport executives were attacked within days of the Gateway campaign beginning. Mann said, "Once we have stopped the airports, which we will do before too long, it is going to be difficult for them to find other ways of bringing animals in."
Mann's first book was published in May 2007. From Dusk 'til Dawn, with a foreword by British poet Benjamin Zephaniah and featuring Britches on its cover, offers a behind-the-scenes account of the animal liberation movement.
The Animal Protection Party
In January 2008 SPEAK Political—since renamed The Animal Protection Party—was set up to speak on behalf of animals and announced that Mann would be standing as an electoral candidate. He wrote on his website that the party would be fielding candidates in areas with MPs who, in the view of the movement, were supportive of companies who use animals, or of practices regarded as abusive by the animal rights movement, such as fox hunting; the point would be not so much to gain power but to have a voice in the electoral process. Mann stood in Oxford West and Abingdon against Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris in the 2010 general election; the area has been the focus of protests against the building of Oxford University's Biomedical Sciences Building. Mann received 143 votes or 0.3 percent; Harris lost the seat to Nicola Blackwood of the Conservative Party.
Keith Mann was a guest of Animal Rights Zone (ARZone), appearing as a Live Guest on the global animal rights social network, which is transcribed on the online site.
- Laville, Sandra. "ALF extremist stands by call to flames", The Guardian, 25 June 2005.
- Bennetto, Jason. Animal rights activist jailed after threatening scientist, The Independent, 30 April 2005.
- For the view of him as a cause célèbre, see Zephaniah, Benjamin. Foreword in Keith Mann. From Dusk 'til Dawn. Puppy Pincher Press, 2007.
- Khan, Yousaf Ali. "Angels of Mercy?", Channel 4, 24 June 2006, accessed 29 October 2010.
- Khan 2006, accessed 29 October 2010.
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- Mann, Keith. "Keith's view", From Dusk 'til Dawn website, 23 January 2007.
- Mann 2007, p. 13.
- Doreen Mann interviewed in Khan 2006, accessed 29 October 2010, from circa 8:15 mins.
- Mann 2007, p. 186.
- Mann 2007, p. 14.
- Khan 2006, accessed 29 October 2010, from circa 5:00 mins.
- Dorreen Mann interviewed in Khan 2006, accessed 29 October 2010, from circa 6:00 mins.
- Celia Hammond interviewed in Khan 2006, accessed 29 October 2010, from circa 6:50 mins.
- Mann 2007, p. 625.
- Mann 2007, p. 603.
- "Stop the botox horror", Southern Animal Rights Coalition, accessed 8 November 2007.
- Bowcott, Owen. "Veteran animal rights activist jailed after threat in court", The Guardian, 30 April 2005.
- Fielding, Nick and Walsh, Gareth. Airports are new target of animal groups, The Sunday Times, 27 February 2005.
- Fielding, Nick and Walsh, Gareth. "Vegan bodybuilder funds animal extremists", The Sunday Times, 15 March 2007.
- About the book, From Dusk 'til Dawn.
- Ellery, Ben. Animal rights election candidate served time for arson, Oxford Times, 24 April 2010.
- Election 2010: Oxford West & Abingdon, BBC, accessed 7 May 2010.
- Bailey, Carolyn (9 May 2010). "Keith Mann's ARZone Live Chat Transcript of 8 May 2010 – Animal Rights Zone". Arzone.ning.com. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
- Keith Mann's website, accessed 29 October 2010.
- Vaughan, Claudette. "No Apologies! No Compromises! No Prisoners!" Abolitionist Online, accessed 15 November 2007.
- Speech by Keith Mann at SHAC meeting, Western Animal Rights Network (WARN) YouTube, 2007, accessed 29 October 2010.
- Sackur, Stephen. Interview with Keith Mann 1/3, 2/3, 3/3, BBC Hardtalk, 15 June 2007, accessed 29 October 2010.