Epsom chiefs beef up security after Express exposes protest plans | UK | News

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Jockey Club officials have spent £150,000 on extra staff in what is expected to be the biggest protective barrier in the race’s 143-year history.

They were also due to serve a High Court injunction last night on the Animal Rising chief identified as a ringleader of the Epsom sabotage plot.

Beau King Houston and his followers face being fined or jailed for contempt of court if they go ahead with the plan to spoil the fun for up to 80,000 spectators.

The move came as organisers thanked the Daily Express for exposing the plan to send dozens of activists into the Surrey venue posing as ordinary racegoers.

Our undercover investigation revealed that at least 72 militants were prepared to break the law and endanger the horses by swarming onto the track.

READ MORE: Animal Rising eco-mob plot to sabotage Saturday’s Epsom Derby exposed

Nevin Truesdale, chief executive of The Jockey Club, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Daily Express for publishing details of Animal Rising’s plans to disrupt The Derby Festival illegally at Epsom Downs over the next two days.

“As a result of this investigation The Jockey Club has today sent copy court documents to Beau King Houston to make him aware, if he was not already, of the injunction we obtained at the High Court last week, which prohibits any disruption over the two days. 

“If he, or anyone else, breaches this court order then we will make an application for Contempt of Court and will formally join him into the proceedings as a named defendant.

“While we completely respect anyone’s right to peaceful protest, we condemn any reckless plans to breach security in an effort to disrupt the action on the track and endanger the safety of the participants in the strongest possible terms. 

“We simply will not tolerate a repeat of the law-breaking stunts we saw on Grand National day in April.”

Mr Truesdale said earlier that racing has “never been safer” for horses, adding: ‘As an industry, we’ve spent £40 million on welfare over the last 20 years.’

“We love these equine athletes, these superstars who get fantastic care behind the scenes. 99.8 percent of horses come back from their races perfectly safe and sound. “

The injunction, granted by Sir Andrew Mann in the the High Court last week, warned that anybody who invades the track could face a fine or imprisonment.

Epsom general manager Tom Sammes said: “Clearly part of planning for any major event is to ensure that as much as possible, all eventualities are covered.

“The safety and security of our customers and participants is our number one priority and any attempt to disrupt our event will be dealt with robustly. 

“Security and policing teams will have a strong and visible presence, controlled centrally via extensive CCTV coverage of the site.

“It is unlikely there has ever been a more stringent and detailed security operation in the history of the Derby.”

But Animal Rising insisted yesterday they would not abandon their hijack plans and could target other events, including tomorrow’s FA Cup final between Manchester United and Manchester City.

Spokeswoman Claudia Penna Rojas said: “I’m prepared to do what’s necessary to do what’s right by these animals and try and prevent them from being harmed.’

“If it means breaking the law, we know that law isn’t always equal to morality and we know that people have had to break laws throughout history to create the change that we need.

She told Sky News: “Again, what this is about is protecting these animals. It’s about trying to create the change that we need to see.

“Where we don’t see animals as property, where we don’t see them as objects that are used for our entertainment and value them and care for them as the beings that they are.”

Racing legend Frankie Dettori, meanwhile, said: “Let’s hope that protesters don’t impede this kind of beautiful event.”

Our investigation warned that the activists would travel into Epsom from all over the country and stay at safe houses the night before the race.

They would then be ferried to and from the course in mini-buses or brought back from the police station if they are arrested.

The militants would then go onto the course posing as ordinary racegoers and communicate with each other with pay-as-you-go “burner phones”.

At a secret briefing session, they were taught how to frustrate arresting police by going “floppy” to make themselves into a dead weight.

Ringleader King Houston, a serial protestor and drag artist, told our reporter he had nothing to fear because he had been arrested many times.

“Honestly being in a cell is like being in a really s*** hotel room.

“There’s a button in the cell to press, which is basically what I call room service.”

“You can ask to just be let out if you’re feeling a bit claustrophobic and they can sometimes let you have a walk-around.

“And you can get as much coffee and tea and water as you want. You just press the bell.”

The threat came two months after police arrested 118 Animal Rising protestors who caused a 14-minute delay to the Grand National at Aintree.

Jockey Club officials offered the group an area at the Epsom venue to stage a protest withoiught threatening danger to riders, staff or spectators.

But after they refused to comply, they sought and obtained the High Court injunction banning them from the track or other forms of disruption.

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