Mastermind of a Twisted Cult and His Disciples; 1.librarian's Son: Daniel Wadham 2.steel-Capped Boots: Daniel Amos 3.computer Expert: Gavin Medd-Hall 4.gerrah Selby: She Turned Down a Place at Edinburgh University after Being Brainwashed by Avery 5.current Wife Natasha Avery 6.ex-Wife Heather Nicholson 7.greg Avery: Avoided Detection by Moving Every Six Months

Article excerpt

IN terms of his determination to achieve his aims, he compares himself to Nelson Mandela.

And he boasts that he is ready to die for the cause. Former associates describe him as a cult leader who brainwashes idealistic but naive middle-class teenagers.

For many years Greg Avery has run a string of brutally effective terror campaigns against animal testing firms around the country.

The 41-year-old told an interviewer: 'Whatever you think of us, you have to admit one thing - what we do works. We have a 100 per cent success rate. Whoever we choose to target is finished.' He inspires astonishing loyalty - before his arrest he shared a house with his wife and ex-wife, who were both key lieutenants in Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty.

And while he was arrested countless times on minor charges, for years he avoided a major conviction by using aliases, paying for everything in cash and moving house every six months.

Avery grew up with five brothers in the well-heeled Cheshire village of Bollington. His father, Philip, was an aero-electrician with British Aerospace, and his mother, Gwen, was a tailor who ran her own textiles business.

As a boy Avery was more interested in Manchester United than animal rights, but was an overnight convert after attending a protest against an animal research laboratory when he was 15.

He became a full-time activist and met his first wife Heather Nicholson, the daughter of a lecturer, in 1994 at a Coventry airport protest against the export of live animals for slaughter.

Two years later the couple launched a campaign of intimidation against Consort Bio Services kennels, which bred beagles for animal research in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire.

Following a relentless tenmonth campaign, including intimidating protests outside the homes of workers, the business was forced to close.

Their next campaign was against Hillgrove Cat Farm in Witney near Oxford, which closed after the owner's wife was tied to a tree with a bag over her head.

Avery met his second wife, Natasha, during the protests and together they decided to go after the biggest target yet - Huntingdon Life Sciences, which had featured in a critical undercover Channel 4 documentary entitled: 'It's a dog's life.' But Avery soon found that protests outside the company's headquarters in rural Cambridgeshire had little impact.

He said: 'We could go there and shout at people, but they just don't care. We decided most of the damage could be done from hundreds of miles away if we did our homework.' He targeted shareholders and also went after HLS's 'supply lines' by intimidating staff at companies that provided them with materials and services - a tactic favoured by the IRA. Avery has also been involved with other animal rights plots and was spotted several times at the notorious campaign against Darley Oaks guinea pig farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire, which included the theft of the remains of the owner's motherin-law, Gladys Hammond. …