A Skipton woman described as "a willing foot soldier" in an animal rights campaign against a controversial research facility has gone on trial today accused of blackmail.

Suzanne Jaggers, 36, of Upper Sackville Street, is alleged to have made threatening phone calls to the owner of a Cheshire-based dog kennel business in bid to get him to end his suspected dealings with Cambridgeshire company Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Jaggers, who has denied the blackmail charge, is said to have made four phone calls between October last year and April this year to Brett Cassidy and his company Little Creek Kennels.

Prosecutor Simon Perkins told Bradford Crown Court that an early hours call to Mr Cassidy in April this year included a specific threat to firebomb his vehicles.

The caller referred to Huntingdon Life Sciences and the Animal Liberation Front and suggested that Mr Cassidy had been given enough warnings.

When Mr Cassidy faced down the threat by saying that it made no difference because his vehicles were all insured the female caller told him: "Not if you're in it and you lose your legs".

Mr Perkins said telephone billing records linked the calls to Jaggers's home phone and mobile and during police interviews following her arrest in May she accepted making two of the four calls, including the early morning call in April.

The jury was told that Mr Cassidy's business, which also included transporting small animals and making crates for small animals to be transported in, was targeted by the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty organisation in May last year.

Although he contacted SHAC to say he had no dealings with Huntingdon Life Sciences, his company was subjected to telephone calls, emails and noisy protests calculated to disrupt his business.

Jaggers is alleged to have made her first call to Mr Cassidy in October last year when he was told to send an email to SHAC saying he would have no further dealings with HLS.

Mr Perkins said the Crown's case amounted to Jaggers being a "willing foot soldier" in the organised campaign which targets HLS.

"We don't say that she's a leader or even especially high up the chain of command, but we do say that she does have a lengthy, voluntary involvement with SHAC," he added. "That she continued to act in support of SHAC even after she became aware of some of their unsavoury tactics."

After her arrest Jaggers told officers that she was involved in a Leeds-based animal protection group and had attended protests. But she said she was opposed to unlawful campaigning and denied being a member of SHAC.

She accepted making the 3am call to Mr Cassidy April and said her intention was to frighten the owner so he would "probably pull out of Huntingdon Life Sciences".

The trial continues.