Vegan activist vet nurse sacked after saving turkey found in her apartment

An award-winning veterinary nurse who supported an animal liberation movement has been fired after a police raid found she was keeping a rescued turkey in her flat, an employment tribunal has heard. “Ethical vegan” Shakira Free Miles had rescued the “sick” bird, named Dorothy, and taken him to the hospital two days after Christmas Day because he couldn’t bear it, the hearing heard.

But the turkey was discovered by officers in the university house she was living in while she was being investigated for her potential involvement with the Animal Liberation Front activist group. At the time, Ms Free Miles worked for the Royal Veterinary College [RVC]who was alerted to her arrest and therefore investigated her.

The prestigious veterinary college then found social media posts where Ms Free Miles was seen holding a piglet in Barcelona under the headline ‘Victim meat – We have a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws’. Not only that, but he discovered she had cared for a rabbit that had been captured in a raid on a farm and featured in a Channel 4 documentary called ‘How to Steal Pigs and Influence People’, said the panel.

Ms Free Miles, who describes herself on Facebook as a ‘liberation activist’, was later fired for gross misconduct after the RVC discovered she was associated with illegal activities by extreme human rights groups. animals. In addition, the university discovered that she had violated its “no pets policy” by keeping Dorothy in her apartment.

After her dismissal, Ms Free Miles tried to take legal action, claiming she had been discriminated against because of her ethical beliefs about veganism and had been unfairly dismissed. But the panel concluded that his trespassing and removal of animals for the purpose of reducing animal suffering was not a philosophical belief.

Ms Free Miles, who joined RVC in 2015, was stationed at her Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in Camden, London, and in 2016 was named Vet Nurse of the Year out of 400 Ceva Awards for Animal Welfare nominations. At the time of the incident in 2019, she was living in an apartment owned by the university.

The court was told Ms Free Miles would not allow meat or animal products to be put in the fridge she used and had been involved in campaigns about certain dog breeds identified as dangerous. The hearing, held in central London, said: ‘She believes that animal life has an innate value and that humans should not eat, wear, use for sport, experiment or profit animals and that humans have a moral obligation to take positive action to prevent or reduce animal suffering.

“She stated in evidence that this included trespassing on private property to expose the suffering of animals and the removal of suffering animals. She said she supported disobeying unjust laws if it was done to expose the suffering of animals. animals.”

Although Ms Free Miles is ‘well aware’ of the no-pets policy, in February 2019 the turkey was found in her flat during a raid when police were investigating a ‘number of break-ins’ and thefts suspected of being committed by the Animal Liberation Front. Ms Free Miles was arrested and Dorothy, the turkey who had ulcer infections and was unable to stand, was collected by the RSPCA.

After being released without charge but under investigation, Ms Free Miles was suspended from her job. The court was told a vet examined Dorothy in December 2018, with Ms Free Miles claiming she rescued her and was in his temporary care.

The panel was told: “She knew she wasn’t allowed to have animals in her apartment, but she felt she had to do something or the turkey would be dead.”

Her Instagram and Twitter accounts revealed that Ms Free Miles’ views were ‘more militant’ of the animal rights movement, with her taking part in farming forays in the UK and overseas with the group Meat the Victims, heard from the panel. When questioned, Ms Free Miles said she was not a member of any animal rights or advocacy groups, saying there was a distinction between protests and illegal activities.

But the university was later told that Ms Free Miles had been linked to animal theft, with the Suffolk Police Counter-Terrorism Unit believing she had dealt with stolen pigs, the court heard. The panel heard that Ms Free Miles had been charged with criminal offenses of conspiracy in relation to animal rights activities in Suffolk and was facing trial at Crown Court.

It was also discovered that on her profile, she described herself as an expert in areas she was not and called herself a ‘veterinarian’, suggesting she was a surgeon, said the court. In June 2020, she was fired for misconduct for violating the no-pets policy by keeping the turkey and for gross misconduct for posting photos of pets on social media without permission and for her involvement with Meat. the Victims who “openly endorsed the breaking of the law”. .

She then seized the labor court for unfair dismissal, direct and indirect discrimination for philosophical conviction and breach of contract. Rejecting his claims, labor judge Harjit Grewal concluded: “[Her] belief that she was morally obligated to take affirmative action to prevent or reduce animal suffering, which included animal trespassing and removal and its manifestation was not a philosophical belief.”

Sharon P. Juarez