Luke Steele – Activist or Terrorist?
Someone, I forget who, once said there is a fine line between an activist and a terrorist. Additionally, they remarked that within every circle of family, friends or work, there is always at least one with a history of criminality. The range of these circles is usually quite small, fortunately, and this knowledge is not generally widespread.
In the circles of Animal Rights activists, and activists generally, the opposite appears to be true. There are more criminals and knowledge of them is openly public. In fact, they wear their criminality like a badge of honour, often arguing that the end justifies the means. Such is their twisted logic.
Arguably, one of the most prominent of these is Luke Steele, Yorkshire’s very own Animal Rights activist.
Steele is something of a Walter Mitty character, seeking out publicity that will benefit him while eschewing any that will not. Apparently introduced to campaigning and protest by his parents as a teenager, little can be easily discovered about him. So closed is this area of his life that I am drawn to the conclusion that Luke Steele may not even be his real name!
Luke Steele appears to have been first noticed by the authorities in October 2008, aged 18, when he was arrested. Convicted in 2009 he was sentenced to six months under the Serious Organised Crime Police Act (SOCPA 2005, section 145). In this instance he was in the vicinity of Highgate Farm, a rabbit breeder, protesting as part of his anti-vivisection activities.
Steele next appeared as a spokesman for Stop Animal Experiments in Bradford, a relatively short-lived foray involving a small number of protests and a petition aimed at stopping animal experiments in universities. A new twist developed around this time, that of utilising Freedom of Information requests to gather intelligence for future activities.
Before interest in vivisection totally dried up Steele founded the National Anti-Vivisection Alliance (NAVA) in 2010. In 2012 Steele was arrested again and sentenced to a total of 18 months for three offences, the most serious being intimidation of staff at Harlan Laboratories, a facility breeding beagles for research. A second activist, Jonathan White, was convicted alongside Steele and sentenced to 7 months (suspended for 18 months). The NAVA website has been inactive since Steele’s conviction.
In the preceding period a NAVA activist had infiltrated Harlan Laboratories and was working undercover. By this time Steele had realised that avoiding prison was easier if a stooge did the dirty work. This became a familiar weapon in the activist’s arsenal and appears to have prompted Steele into refining his tactics. Fundraising seems to have produced some nice uniforms giving the whole thing a Hitler Youth feel.
One man coalition
Following Steele’s release came his involvement with the Anti-Vivisection Coalition. AVC, far from being a coalition, was more of a one-man protest outfit. AVC seems to have closed its doors around 2015 and its website is no longer active. This is part of Steele’s modus operandi, never staying still long enough to be pinned down. Possibly as a result of funds from donations drying up when public attention focuses on another area of interest.
In 2015, then said to be a consultant to PETA, Steele gate-crashed Crufts.
It also demonstrates a common pattern, that of a short-lived but extremely noisy campaign, capitalising on a surge of interest and fund-raising before moving on. Interest in vivisection was waning fast by now so a change of direction was needed.
This change was heralded by the arrival of Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors. By now things were beginning to take on the look and feel of a well-oiled franchise with many campaigns being spun off, including Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor. That particular one successfully lobbying Bradford Council into refusing to renew the eight day a year grouse shooting lease.
This new organisation morphed into Wild Moors, Steele’s latest promotion and campaign group, albeit with a UK-wide remit nowadays.
Other groups exist, of course, including Stop the Shoot and Moorland Monitors, but they all follow a very similar pattern. That of separating a well-meaning, but gullible, portion of society from some of its hard-earned money. They all have a tendency to be ‘economical’ with the truth, or blatantly lying as many would say, and generally are Left leaning, politically. In many cases hard Left. The Tweet shown on the left was completely untrue, of course, and Steele quickly deleted it leaving hundreds of gullible acolytes dangling. To paraphrase, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
Although something of a lone wolf, Steele is not averse to working with other similarly minded groups such as the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), Wild Justice or even the RSPB. LACS, of course, are no strangers to employing people to infiltrate organisations in an attempt to gain evidence to use against them. Usually, evidence so gathered carries no weight in a court case.
Far be it from us to suggest that Wild Justice or the RSPB would stoop to the levels previously occupied by Luke Steele and his acolytes, but they certainly don’t shy away from contact. The picture shows, left to right, Jeff Knott (RSPB), Mark Avery (Wild Justice) and Luke Steele. It would be inconceivable to imagine Steele is not on familiar terms with many senior figures in both the RSPB and Wild Justice.
We look forward with bated breath to Steele’s next stunt. He’s clearly no duffer but I suspect he won’t have to pay a student loan back when he finishes his PhD. He is probably being funded by US.
The question remains, is Luke Steele an activist or a terrorist?
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