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Friday, 23 February, 2001, 16:35 GMT
Animal lab boss defiant after attack
Brian Cass
Target: Attack on Brian Cass "linked to protest"
The head of an animal testing company says he is determined not to give in to "terrorism" after being hurt in an attack believed linked to animal rights protesters.

Huntingdon Life Sciences managing director Brian Cass, 53, was set upon by three masked people brandishing baseball bats at about 1945 GMT in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, on Thursday.

Detectives said they were in no doubt the attack was linked to the protests against the animal experiments carried out at HLS.

Brian Cass
Brian Cass was left with a three-inch head wound
But a defiant Mr Cass, nursing a three-inch head wound, said: "I am not going to give in to these intimidating tactics even if they do extend into this sort of violence."

Mr Cass said he noticed someone loitering about near his three-storey townhouse just before the attack and turned to see three people with baseball bats raised above their heads about to hit him.

A passer-by began chasing the people down the street after they assaulted Mr Cass, but he was sprayed with CS gas, said the managing director.

"I feel angry that there are people who pretend to be concerned about animals but then they go and attack someone in this sort of manner. It is totally hypocritical and cowardly," he said.

Heavily-built attackers

Mr Cass was taken to Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon where he received stitches to his head wound and was treated for arm injuries.

An HLS spokesman said: "Security at Huntingdon remains as tight as it has always been and no doubt we will be giving staff further information on how to improve safety at home."

Natasha Taylor of protest group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (Shac) said: "We unreservedly condemn any act of violence be it against animals or humans."

But Mr Cass was highly sceptical of Shac's claims that the attack was not connected to its campaign.

"Obviously one can't say for certain but in my own mind there is no doubt that it was certainly perpetrated by supporters of that campaign," he said.

Police said two of the assailants were heavily built men - one wearing camouflage clothing, the other a baseball cap and a nylon padded jacket with a hood. The third is believed to be a woman.

Last month Huntingdon was saved from receivership over a 22.6m loan owed to Royal Bank of Scotland and two US banks, when it was backed by US investment firm Stephens Group.

But animal rights activists pledged to escalate protest actions against HLS, its customers and its financial backers.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"The government condemned the attack as appalling"
The BBC's Valerie Jones
"He only escaped further injuries because a passer-by stopped to help"
Discussion
between Professor Colin Blakemore, neurophysiologist at Oxford University, and Robin Webb, from the Animal Liberation Front
Animal rights protesters are trying to force the closure of a company who test medicines on animals


Background

TALKING POINT
See also:

22 Jan 01 | Business
19 Jan 01 | Business
29 Jan 01 | Business
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