A vegan veterinary nurse and self-proclaimed “animal liberation activist” who was fired after she was found herding a turkey in her apartment has lost an unfair and dismal case against her former employer.
Shakira Free Miles had taken the ‘sick’ bird to a veterinary hospital two days after Christmas Day and then kept it in her university-provided apartment, an employment tribunal has heard.
But the turkey was discovered by officers who searched the property as they investigated its potential involvement with the Animal Liberation Front campaign group.
At the time, Ms Free Miles was an award-winning veterinary nurse working for the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in London.
The bosses of the prestigious veterinary university were alerted to his arrest and then launched an investigation.
They found social media posts where Ms Free Miles was seen holding a piglet in Barcelona under the headline ‘Victim meat – It is moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws’.
They also discovered that she had treated a rabbit that had been captured during a raid on a farm and featured in a Channel 4 documentary called ‘How to Steal Pigs and Influence People’, the panel said.
Ms Free Miles, whose views have proven to be ‘on the more militant side’ of the animal rights movement, was later sacked for gross misconduct after the RVC discovered she was associated with illegal activities carried out by extreme animal rights groups, the court was told.
The university also discovered that it had violated its ‘no pets policy’ by keeping Dorothy in her apartment.
After her dismissal, Ms Free Miles tried to sue her former employers, claiming she had been discriminated against because of her ethical beliefs in 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.
‘Activist’ Shakira Free Miles, a self-proclaimed ‘liberation activist’ from London, rescued the ‘sick’ bird and took it to a veterinary hospital two days after Christmas Day, an employment tribunal has heard . Pictured: Shakira Free Miles
At the time, Ms Free Miles (centre picture winning an award) was an award-winning veterinary nurse working for the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in London, who were alerted to her arrest and subsequently launched an investigation.
Ms Free Miles, who joined RVC in 2015, was based at her Beaumont Sainsbury Veterinary Hospital in Camden, London.
In 2016, she was named Veterinary Nurse of the Year out of 400 nominations at the Ceva Awards for Animal Welfare.
At the time of the incident in 2019, she was living in a flat owned by the university, paying rent of £340 a month.
The court was told that Ms Free Miles, who had made her ethical beliefs about veganism clear at the start of her employment, would not allow meat or animal products to be put in the fridge she used at the apartment.
She had also been involved in campaigns about certain dog breeds identified as dangerous and featured in media interviews, including being interviewed by Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio London about the importance of microchipped dogs.
Ms Free Miles, who joined RVC in 2015, was based at her Beaumont Sainsbury Veterinary Hospital in Camden, London. Pictured: Shakira Free Miles with a chick
The hearing, held in central London, was told: ‘She believes that animal life has an innate value and that humans should not eat, wear, use for sport, experiment or shoot benefit 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 animal suffering and removal of suffering animals.
“She said she supported disobeying unjust laws if it was done to expose animal suffering.”
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 ‘sick’ 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 involvement 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 activity.
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 globalanimnalnetwork.org profile she described herself as an expert in areas she was not and called herself a ‘veterinarian’, suggesting she was a surgeon, the court heard
In June 2020 Ms Free Miles (pictured) was fired for misconduct for breaching the no pets policy by keeping the turkey and for gross misconduct for posting pictures of pets on social media without permission and for his involvement in Meat the Victims who ‘openly endorsed breaking the law’
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 told her boss that she had been charged with criminal offenses of conspiracy in relation to animal rights work in Suffolk and was facing trial at the Crown Court.
It was also discovered that on her globalanimnalnetwork.org 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.
Dismissing his claims, Labor Judge Harjit Grewal concluded: ‘[Her] belief that she was morally obligated to take positive action to prevent or reduce animal suffering, which included animal trespassing and removal and its manifestation was not a philosophical belief.