Hunger striker close to death

Mon, Dec 7, 1998, 00:00

Animal rights campaigner Barry Horne was on the verge of slipping into a coma last night on the 61st day of his hunger strike.

Friends believe he is unlikely to last the week as his potassium levels fell dangerously low over the weekend. Horne (46) was visited yesterday at York District Hospital by his girlfriend, Ms Alison Lawson. He issued a statement through supporters refuting weekend reports that he wanted to die.

"I categorically deny ever saying that I wanted to die," he said. "I remain determined to expose this government's lies and hypocrisy in breaking its pre-election promises." Horne repeated he would call off his protest if the government agrees to set up a royal commission "or similar independent body" to examine animal experimentation issues.

He was moved to the hospital from Full Sutton Prison, Yorkshire, where he is a Category A prisoner serving 18 years for a 1994 firebombing of animal rights targets in the Isle of Wight.

Mr Robin Webb, press officer for the Animal Liberation Front, said: "I don't believe him lapsing into a coma can be too far away. I am surprised he has remained alive for so long.

"Barry has become very emotional, but that is purely because of his physical condition. His determination is as strong as ever."

Last week the Animal Rights Militia threatened to assassinate 10 supporters of vivisection if Horne dies.