In 2013 Hector Christie was arrested for damaging genetically modified crops being grown by Rothampstead laboratory. They sent twenty five police cars to collect him.
“I naively asked at the time if there had been a burglary or something.” He told me. “But they said ‘no, they’re all for you.’ That’s when I started to realise I was in trouble.”
During his court case he was repeatedly threatened with a fine of over £50,000, which would then be dropped to £4300, to shuttle him exhaustingly between hearings at the crown and magistrates courts. He was warned by friends that an attempt might be made on his life if he continued to attack the GMO corporations.
A few days after his arrest there was a publicly announced demonstration against the laboratory, called Take Back the Flour. The police response was the third biggest in recent times, the other two being for Al Qaeda terrorist threats. In addition to the hundreds of police were a ten mile exclusion zone, helicopters, and a continuous ring of police surrounding the site. The cost was in the millions.
“It was incredible good fortune to get in.” he said. “They had infrared cameras but with help from the angels I walked past the cameras and two guards four times, visualising an invisibility cloak.” Because of it’s close weave, the fence could not be climbed. It was very high with a sharp top and a deep ditch dug all the way around. The reason Hector had had to walk past the cameras several times was he needed to walk back into the woods to get a log, which incredibly, he used to vault over the fence!
“I felt the angels literally lift me over.” he said.
During his court hearing it transpired that the security guard was never supposed to leave the CCTV screen unmanned, but had gone to the toilet during the time window it took for Hector to enter the site and begin to pull up crops and scatter organic wheat seeds. Listening to story after story of amazing coincidence, I did start to wonder if perhaps the angels were indeed enjoying the show.
After dinner we watched videos of protests at global summits that Hector had attended over the years. Violent clashes between citizens in bike helmets throwing stones and police in riot gear with guns.
“The key is to come at it from the side, take them off balance. One time at the G8 summit at Gleneagles I was with a group of friends all in kilts, with helmets and bushy bright orange beards. As the police charged, we sang them summer holiday all lifted our kilts… showing pictures of prime ministers over our crotches. It totally threw them.” he said laughing.
“We can initiate change.” he said. “The radicalisation of a few people during foot and mouth did have a big impact on the government and hugely reduced the slaughter. It’s so easy to get despondent but the little actions that people take have a far bigger impact than we realise.”
Hector showed me to my room, passed protest banners leaning against the hallway walls, and old portrait paintings, to a room with a several hundred year old four poster bed. I laid out my sleeping bag on the mattress.