IT has only been running for ten months, but a York animal rights group claims it has already won the support of superstars from the likes of Bryan Adams, Sting and Sinead O'Connor.

Now York Action for Animals (YAFA) has invited a rather different "star" to address a meeting in the city - former leader of the notorious Animal Liberation Front, Keith Mann.

Spokesman Matt Gibbons said Mr Mann had gained fame by escaping from prison in the 1990s and using his time on the run to co-ordinate ALF activities.

"The Animal Liberation Front gained notoriety in the 1980s and 1990s by breaking into laboratories and other places of animal abuse, and rescuing animals," he said.

Mr Mann has served lengthy jail terms for a range of actions including attacking the home of a fox hunter, possession of explosives, incitement and criminal damage.

He was jailed after raiding a research laboratory and removing 695 caged mice, which were allegedly being used to test botulinum toxin, used in Botox.

But Matt claimed he was now a "reformed character," who supported groups such as YAFA, which believe in operating within the law.

"It will be great for Keith to come to York and give a talk about his experiences," he said. "He will be showing a film, which is awesome. It shows the history of animal liberation in the UK and anyone who watches it will end up becoming vegetarian.

"YAFA has always had a policy of operating within the law - and we will support Keith every step of the way. It is good that the animal rights movement is now legal and has support from politicians and superstars alike."

Mr Mann said: "I have never broken the law since being released from jail. It's good to hear there's such an enthusiastic, active group shaking things up in York. For all my thoughts on direct action, the local group network is essential in this struggle."

Matt said the meeting would take place in November, but a date and venue had yet to be decided.

He said YAFA had taken part in peaceful protests outside the Spirit Of The Horse event, on Knavesmire earlier this year. The Press reported how one protester was knocked to the ground by a car being driven out of the event, which featured performing horses.

Matt said YAFA's website,, had gained superstar support from the likes of like Bryan Adams, Sinead O'Connor the poet Benjamin Zephaniah, Sting and the band Snow Patrol.