TWELVE people appeared at Hereford Magistrates' Court yesterday charged with offences under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

The charges relate to alleged interference with contractual relationships so as to harm an animal research organisation.

The 12 defendants - five men and seven women - were arrested in May as part of Operation Tornado, an investigation into animal rights activities within the West Mercia force area. The operation culminated in two arrest days involving West Mercia CID officers, assisted by national police agencies. The arrests took place in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, Gloucestershire and the West Midlands.

The case was adjourned for a committal hearing at Hereford Magistrates' Court on Friday, January 19. All 12 were released on unconditional bail.