UK court bars animal rights activists from Epsom Derby
British rights group Animal Rising was slapped Friday with a court injunction barring it from staging direct action to disrupt the upcoming Epsom Derby, one of horse racing's premier events.
Members of the animal rights group stormed the Grand National race at Aintree last month, and this week said they had "rescued" three lambs from slaughter on a farm on King Charles III's Sandringham estate.
Three horses were destroyed after getting injured during the Grand National steeplechase festival -- proof, the group says, that racing is fatally dangerous.
It has been mobilising on social media to follow up with more protests at Epsom, west of London, for the derby on June 3, urging supporters: "We need as many people as possible to get on the tracks with us."
The Jockey Club, which includes Aintree, Epsom and Cheltenham among its tracks, successfully applied for a High Court injunction -- breaches of which would amount to contempt of court, possibly entailing jail time.
The injunction prohibits individuals from entering onto the Epsom racetrack, and carrying out other acts with the intention and/or effect of disrupting the races.
Jockey Club chief executive Nevin Truesdale welcomed the court ruling, following what he called the group's "dangerous and reckless behaviour" at Aintree.
"Our number one priority will always be to ensure that the safety of all our equine and human participants and racegoers, officials and our own employees is not compromised," he said in a statement.
The group -- one of several that have sprung up in Britain to wage direct action on issues such as climate change -- refused to confirm whether it would abide by the injunction.
"Animal Rising's stance has not changed," spokesman Nathan McGovern told AFP in response to the ruling.
The group added in a statement: "As long as our relationship with other animals and nature is broken -- whether that's in horse racing or our food system -- individuals will continue to put their bodies between harm and these beautiful creatures."
The Jockey Club has offered an alternative protest site to Animal Rising at Epsom -- which the group rejected.
"Waving a placard at the side of the road never changed the world, and it never will," McGovern said.