Police vow 'robust' crackdown on vegan mob plot to sabotage Grand National trends now
Police have said they will 'robustly' defend the Grand National from militant vegans and animal rights campaigners who are planning to storm the racecourse.
An undercover investigation by the Mail on Sunday has found more than 100 Animal Rebellion members want to stop the supremely popular horse race, which is taking place at Aintree on April 15.
The paper revealed the activists plan to use ladders and bolt cutters to get through security fences, before forming a barrier on the course by gluing themselves together.
Merseyside Police has been given a dossier of evidence obtained by an undercover reporter posing as a member of the group, which wants to 'ruin' an event watched by 600 million around the world and tens of thousands of people at the course.
The force has said it has a 'robust policing plan in place' to scupper the designs of demonstrators, adding that unlawful protest 'will not be tolerated'.
Jim Edwards (pictured), the former founding editor of the UK website of Business Insider, is involved with militant Animal Rebellion
Rose Patterson (pictured) who has been arrested at previous Animal Rebellion stunts, was also involved in planning the protest
A secret plot by more than 100 eco-activists to sabotage the Grand National has been exposed by an undercover Mail on Sunday investigation
Merseyside Police has vowed to deal 'robustly' with any protesters. Pictured: Armed officers at the entrance of Aintree Racecourse at last year's Grand National
The event is one of the most watched horse races in the world. Pictured: Horses clear one of the fences in the 2022 edition of the world-famous steeplechase race
Our journalist filmed as the activists, who include a former top financial journalist and a nurse, simulated charging at security guards and boasting they would 'ruin' this year's event during a secret meeting in east London in preparation for the event.
Any delay or cancellation of this year's Grand National would provoke an international outcry and cost the horse racing and betting industries millions of pounds.
The plot echoes the so-called 'Race that Never Was' in 1993, when 15 animal rights protesters stormed the course near the first fence and delayed the start by eight minutes. It was then declared void after two false starts. Four years later, the race was postponed for two days after an IRA bomb threat led to the course being evacuated.
Alarmingly, those behind the latest plot claim it will 'kick-start' further protests at prestigious horse races this summer – raising the prospect that the first Royal Ascot of King Charles's reign could be targeted in June.
However, Merseyside Police vowed to crackdown should the animal activists attempt to carry out their threats.
A spokesperson for Merseyside Police said: 'Merseyside Police has a robust policing plan in place for Aintree, as it does for any major public event, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved.
'We have been working with our partners, including The Jockey Club, for a number of months in the build up to this year's festival to ensure that any necessary plans and processes are in place to deal with any incidents that may arise and to prevent any significant or ongoing disruption to racegoers and local residents and businesses.
'We respect the right to peaceful protest and expression of views, but public order or criminal offences will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly.'
Jim Edwards, pictured here with Sadiq Khan in 2018, advises Animal Rebellion on its media strategy
The conspiracy – revealed just two weeks before the race meeting – was uncovered by an MoS reporter posing as a member of the Animal Rebellion campaign group
Edwards, pictured here in 2021, phoned our reporter asking her to join in the group's 'biggest spectacular' protest yet
An offshoot of militant environmental group Extinction Rebellion, Animal Rebellion has carried out high profile protests since it was founded in 2019.
The group, which is calling for an end to all animal farming and fishing, first made waves by dumping milk in supermarkets, including Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.
The protesters, who have also called for a ban on horse racing - which they brand 'animal abuse' - have recently conducted sit-ins at high-end restaurants.
Former James Bond star Pierce Brosnan and his wife were caught up in a protest last month after its members targeted seafood restaurant Scott's in Mayfair, London.
The Mail on Sunday first infiltrated the group in November last year and quickly realised a major plot was brewing.
For weeks Animal Rebellion's leaders have been careful to keep the conspiracy under wraps, but earlier this month an activist who called himself 'Jim' phoned our reporter with a startling announcement.
Describing a forthcoming protest as 'our biggest spectacular one to date', he asked: 'Have you heard of the Grand National?
'That will not be happening this year,' he added. 'We're hoping to gather 300 activists to occupy that course and stop it.'
The MoS can today reveal that 'Jim' is in fact award-winning business journalist Jim Edwards, the former founding editor of the UK edition of financial news website Business Insider.
In 2018 he was pictured alongside London Mayor Sadiq Khan at a reception organised by the website. He quit last