Animal rights "terrorists" were condemned yesterday after the owners of a guinea pig breeding farm announced their decision to close the business following a six-year hate campaign.
The Hall family, of Darley Oaks Farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire, said they hoped their decision would lead to the return of the remains of a family member whose body was disinterred, allegedly by animal rights activists.
The grave of 82-year-old Gladys Hammond, motherinlaw of Chris Hall who coowns Darley Oaks Farm with his brother John, was desecrated and her body stolen from a grave at St Peter's church in nearby Yoxall last October.
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The theft followed a sustained campaign of intimidation by extremists which included regular protests at the gates, firebomb attacks, a paedophile smear campaign and the cutting of electricity and phone lines.
Businesses with links to the Halls and acquaintances of the farmers were also targeted, forcing the family to sever links with shops, suppliers and even the local golf club.
The brothers inherited the farm from their father David, 30 years ago.
In a statement yesterday, a spokeswoman for the Halls said: "David Hall and Partners' involvement in breeding guinea pigs for biomedical research will cease at the end of 2005.
"The business, which has operated for over three decades, will undergo a phased closure until then to ensure the welfare of animals involved.
"The business has continued during a sustained protest from animal rights extremists for six years, which included the desecration of the grave of Gladys Hammond last October.
"We now hope that, as a result of this announcement, those responsible for removing Gladys' body will return her so she can lie once again in her rightful resting place."
She said the Halls were planning a return to traditional farming and had no plans to be involved in any way in the breeding of animals for medical or scientific research.
A spokesman for campaign group Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs said it had been a "fantastic day".
Staffordshire Police has responded to more that 460 incidents at Darley Oaks Farm or secondary targets since January 2003.
Since September 1999, 60 people have been arrested for offences connected to the Darley Oaks protest. Of these, 28 have been convicted or received a caution for their offences.
Two restraining orders and one Anti-Social Behaviour Order have also been issued to offenders to protect the Halls.
A spokesman for Victims of Animal Rights Extremism (VARE) Darley Oaks Farm and Newchurch community said they were saddened by the Halls' decision but hoped other businesses would not follow suit.
Soon after the announcement a relative of the Halls, who declined to be named, pleaded for anyone with information about Gladys Hammond's body to contact Staffordshire Police "as the reason Gladys was taken from her family no longer exists".