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Ramsgate live animal exports campaigner Christine Lancaster, from Herne Bay, in court for resisting arrest during protest

By Matt Leclere

An animal rights campaigner clung to the windscreen wipers of a lorry carrying live exports while launching a foul-mouthed tirade at its driver, a court has heard.

Lifelong vegetarian Christine Lancaster then sat in front of the truck and refused to move, even when asked to by a police officer who feared she would be run over.

The 45-year-old, of Thornden Wood Road, Herne Bay, was arrested during the demonstration at the Port of Ramsgate on February 15 this year.

The protest on February 15 led to two arrests, Christine Lancaster, and another protester who was later de-arrested at the scene, Margate Magistrates Court heard. File picture by Ian Driver
The protest on February 15 led to two arrests, Christine Lancaster, and another protester who was later de-arrested at the scene, Margate Magistrates Court heard. File picture by Ian Driver

She appeared before Margate magistrates yesterday and admitted obstructing a police officer.

The court was told that as part of an agreement with police and haulage firms, campaigners are permitted to protest peacefully for two minutes when lorries carrying live animal exports arrive at the port.

But prosecutor Anna Kachingwe said Lancaster was far from peaceful.

“One lorry came to a stop and Miss Lancaster came up to the lorry and was swearing at the driver and hanging onto the windscreen wipers,” she said.

"The officer took hold of her wrists believing she was going to cause damage to the lorry, herself and the driver. She continued shouting.

"People sat down in front with their backs to the lorry and after two minutes this sit-down protest ended.

The RSPCA has made a fresh call for a ban on the long distance live export of animals. Picture: RSPCA (6501456)
The RSPCA has made a fresh call for a ban on the long distance live export of animals. Picture: RSPCA (6501456)

"Miss Lancaster continued to sit down and the lorry started moving."

Ms Kachingwe said the officer tried to move Lancaster, fearing she was in danger of being run over, but the protester put her feet out to stop herself being moved.

"Other protesters attempted to grab her and again she resisted. Protesters moved back and she was arrested," Ms Kachingwe told the court.

Defending, Samantha White said Lancaster - who attends about 30 such demonstrations a year - became upset at seeing the animals in the truck and now wanted to apologise for her actions.

"The protesters work very closely with the police, there's an agreed process,” she said.

“The two minutes give them sufficient time to gather evidence. There's real concern about the export of live animals.

An agreement with police and haulage firms gives campaigners two minutes to protest when each vehicle arrives at the port. File picture taken by Ian Driver, August 2017
An agreement with police and haulage firms gives campaigners two minutes to protest when each vehicle arrives at the port. File picture taken by Ian Driver, August 2017

"There hasn't been an issue for nearly two years until Miss Lancaster was arrested.

"Arrests don't serve their cause in a positive light. They want to make a difference to the way animals are treated and dealt with.

"It wasn't quite as straightforward as the prosecution would have you believe. On the day, the lorries got lost and came from the wrong direction."

Ms White said usually police would be in front of the lorries when they reach Royal Harbour Approach, but on this occasion protesters were sandwiched between the lorry and police, causing "a bit of a melee" when the trucks arrived.

She said self-employed Lancaster and her husband had been forced to move in with friends after he lost his job and business.

Lancaster was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £105 costs.

Campaigners at the port during a protest in November
Campaigners at the port during a protest in November

Chairman of the bench Andrew Backway told her: "We're going to exercise our discretion and your guilty plea is the reduction from a financial penalty.

"If you are brought back to court during this period you will be punished for this and the new offence."

The court heard another woman was arrested and de-arrested at the scene during the same protest.

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

Read more: The latest news and headlines in Thanet.

Read more: All the latest news from Herne Bay.

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