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Roger Yates

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Roger Yates
Born7 August 1957 (1957-08-07) (age 52)
EducationPhD in sociology
Alma materUniversity of Wales, Bangor
EmployerUniversity College Dublin
University of Wales
Known forAnimal rights advocacy
Human-Nonhuman Relations
Animal Rights Violations.

Roger Yates (7 August 1957) is a lecturer in sociology at University College Dublin and the University of Wales, specializing in animal rights. He is a former executive committee member of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), a former Animal Liberation Front (ALF) Northern regional press officer, and co-founder of the Fur Action Group.

Yates was sentenced to four years' imprisonment in 1987 for conspiracy to commit criminal damage on behalf of the ALF. He absconded during the trial and was on the run for two years, before being apprehended and serving his sentence.[1] After his release in 1990, he began an academic study of animal protectionism and social movements, obtaining his PhD from the University of Wales, Bangor in 2005 on the subject of human/non-human relations.


Early activism

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Yates became fully involved in the British grassroots animal movement in 1979, following a false start two years earlier when he joined the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA), but failed to find fellow "sabs" near Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire. By 1979, he had moved to Essex and had become active as a vegan animal rights advocate.


Yates was one of a group of activists, associated with the Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group (ALF SG), who tried in the early 1980s to gain control of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), a conservative anti-vivisection group founded in 1898. In 1982, Yates became a member of the BUAV's executive committee, along with Dave McColl, a director of Sea Shepherd, and used the position to radicalize the organization, which meant that significant campaigning funds became available to activists for the first time.[2]

Yates co-founded the Fur Action Group with others from the BUAV, and created the largest data bank on fur-bearing animals in the country, later handed over to the Lynx anti-fur organization.[3]

Kim Stallwood, BUAV's national organizer from 1981-1986, writes that the ALF activists who wanted to take over the BUAV believed all political action to be a waste of time, and wanted the group to devote its resources to direct action. The BUAV had been supportive of the ALF, and had allowed the ALF SG to use free office space in the BUAV's London offices, but in 1984, the board reluctantly voted to expel the Supporters Group and to withdraw its political support from the ALF.[4]

Move to Liverpool

Yates moved to Liverpool to become a main organizer of the Merseyside Animal Rights Committee, along with Hunt Saboteur Association (HSA) co-ordinators Dave and Fiona Callender. He helped with the HSA's annual campaigns against the Waterloo Cup hare coursing event and the Northern grouse shoot sabotages, and joined the Merseyside Sea Shepherd's campaigns against seal killing in the Orkney Islands. He also devised the "fur pledge" campaign targeting Manchester-based furrier, Edelson Furs, which had a number of franchises in large department stores; the pledge involved members of the public vowing to boycott entire stores while they had fur departments. He initiated public showings of videos such as Victor Schonfeld's The Animals Film, and opened and ran the first "Animal Rights Shop" in Liverpool City centre, selling merchandise from a range of national animal protection organisations. Throughout this period, Merseyside activists were active members of the Northern Animal Liberation League (NALL), culminating in a daylight raid on ICI in Alderley Park, Cheshire, involving 300 activists.[5]

ALF press officer

In 1983, the co-founder and national press liaison officer of the Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group, Ronnie Lee, persuaded Yates to act as the organization's northern press officer.[6] This coincided with a dramatic change in ALF activity from direct rescue of animals to committing acts of economic sabotage, and in the government and police response to direct action. During this period, homes for rescued animals were drying up, so Yates founded the Rescued Animals Sanctuary Fund as a means of keeping this possibility open to animal liberationists.


In February 1987, Yates was one of 12 defendants convicted at Sheffield Crown Court, including three ALF SG press officers, after police raided a house in which they found evidence that incendiary devices were being created, using fire lighters, batteries, and broken light bulbs. Similar devices hidden inside cigarette packets had been used in fur stores and department stores selling fur throughout England and Scotland, with the intention of setting off the sprinkler systems.[7]

Yates was sentenced to four years' imprisonment for conspiracy to cause criminal damage, along with another activist, Sean Crabtree, while Ronnie Lee received a ten-year term.[8] Lee's sentence coincided with the jailing for six and seven years of two defendants in the Ealing Vicarage rape case — where two men had raped a woman in front of her boyfriend and father, who were badly beaten — prompting Conservative MP Steven Norris to declare in 1987 that, "sentencing at the moment seems to suggest that a woman’s body is less valuable than property or the right of experimenters and mink farmers to live in peace."[9]

Escape and capture

Yates absconded during his trial and spent three years on the run. He writes:

While we were getting to the end of the trial our barristers told us that Ronnie could expect something like 16 years in jail and the 'lieutenants' in the case, such as Brendan, Vivian Smith and myself, might get 10 years each. I was the only defendant with children at the time and I realised we were talking about most of their school years ...[1]

While on the run, he helped to launch the Federation of Local Animal Rights Groups.[10] He was apprehended in north Wales in 1989 after a bomb exploded in the Senate House bar of Bristol University, an act claimed by the "Animal Abuse Society," an unknown group. The attack was followed by a series of car bomb attacks.[11] Yates became a leading suspect in the Bristol attack. His mug shot was widely distributed and within three weeks, police had arrested him in north Wales, where he had been living.[12]

Yates appealed to activists from his prison cell in a statement to The Guardian, that they take no life-threatening action, in line with ALF policy.[13] The car-bomb attacks continued, claimed by the "British Animal Rights Society," another unknown group. After a nail bomb attack on a Land Rover, the car's owner, a huntsman, was charged with having blown up his own car. He admitted two similar offences, reportedly telling the court, "I did it to discredit the animal rights and its associations," and was jailed for nine months.[14]

Academic life

Yates focuses on the social transmission of speciesism, and how and why modern human societies exploit and harm animals. He has called for a strategic audit of the animal protection movement.[15] As part of the abolitionist approach to animal rights, and inspired by the writing of Gary L. Francione, he makes a "plea for a philosophical animal rights stance."[16][17] Francione's abolitionist critique of the property status of animals is reflected in Yates's investigations in 2001 into horse maiming, or "horse ripping."[18]

A recurring theme in his work is the exploration of the so-called "movement-countermovement dialectic" involving social movements and their opponents as claims-makers. Piers Beirne and N. South write that Yates explores the "extent to which the general public, pet owners, dog show advocates, and other 'pro-use' interests, learn and recycle countermovement message(s) about the theories of change and their advocates. Do the arguments laid out by the countermovements act as 'scripts' to aid those who oppose the ideas of the pro-animal movement?"[19] Commenting on his "Rituals of Dominionism in Human-Nonhuman Relations: Bullfighting to Hunting, Circuses to Petting," Richard White writes that Yates "skilfully develops a persuasive critique which seeks to contextualise the powerful role of social rituals in shaping humans' speciesist relationships with other animals."

His MA thesis was an examination of the British animal protection movement,[20] and his 2005 PhD dissertation, "The Social Construction of Human Beings and Other Animals in Human-Nonhuman Relations. Welfare and Rights: A Contemporary Sociological Analysis," was a work of non-speciesist zemiology. He maintains two blogs, "On Human-Nonhuman Relations," a sociological exploration of speciesism, and "Animal Rights Violations."

Selected works


  1. ^ a b Yates 2007.
  2. ^ Gold 1998, p. 158.
  3. ^ Gold 1998, p. 44.
  4. ^ Stallwood 2004, pp. 85-87.
  5. ^ Mann 2007, pp. 81-83.
  6. ^ Henshaw 1989, p. 110.
  7. ^ Mann 2007, pp. 135-143.
  8. ^ Finsen and Finsen 1994, p. 102.
  9. ^ Mann 2007, p. 139.
  10. ^ Henshaw 1989, p. 200.
  11. ^ Baker 1993, p. 205-206.
  12. ^ Mann 2007, p. 157.
  13. ^ Baker, Picturing the Beast, p. 206.
  14. ^ Mann 2007, p. 158.
  15. ^ "A Strategic Audit for Animal Rights, Uncaged, No. 21, March-May: 16-17, 1999.
  16. ^ Perlo 2007.
  17. ^ Scott 2004.
  18. ^ Powell and Yates 2001.
  19. ^ Beirne and South 2007.
  20. ^ The MA thesis was updated in 2008 and is available here.


  • Baker, S. (1993). Picturing the Beast: Animals, Identity and Representation. Manchester University Press.
  • Beirne, P. and South, N. (2007). "Introduction: approaching green criminology," in Beirne P. and South, N. (eds.) Issues in Green Criminology, Willan.
  • Finsen, Lawrence and Finsen, Susan (1994). The Animal Rights Movement in America. Twayne Publishers.
  • Gold, M. (1998). Animal Century: A Celebration of Changing Attitudes to Animals. Charlbury: Carpenter.
  • Henshaw, D. (1989). Animal Warfare: The Story of the Animal Liberation Front. London: Fontana.
  • Mann, Keith (2007). From Dusk ‘til Dawn: An Insider’s View of the Growth of the Animal Liberation Movement, London. Puppy Pincher Press.
  • Perlo, K. (2007). Extrinsic and Intrinsic Arguments; Strategies for Promoting Animal Rights, Journal for Critical Animal Studies, vol. 5(1).
  • Powell, Chris and Yates, Roger (2001). Panic and Pathology. A Look Back at Horse Maiming in the 1990s, first published 2001; Human-Nonhuman Relations, March 29, 2008, accessed August 31, 2009.</ref>
  • Scott, Paul (2004). Chairman defends elephant decision, North Wales Weekly, September 9, 2004.
  • Stallwood, Kim (2004). "A Personal Overview of Direct Action," in Best and Nocella (eds.). Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?. Lantern Books.
  • Yates, Roger (2007). "From Dock to Doctor", On Human-Nonhuman Relations, July 31, 2007, accessed August 31, 2009.

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