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Wednesday, 12 April, 2000, 17:38 GMT 18:38 UK
Animal rights picket condemned

A previous demonstration outside Huntingdon Life Sciences
A prominent research scientist has condemned an animal rights protest outside the home of a pensioner with shares in a pharmaceutical firm.

Anti-vivisectionists picketed the home of David Braybrook after discovering he has shares of about 2,000 in Huntingdon Life Sciences, a Cambridgeshire-based firm that tests animals for research.

Dr Mark Matfield, director of the Research Defence Society, which represents research scientists, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The demonstrators are quite open, they are admitting the purpose of what they are doing is to persuade, that is, intimidate small shareholders into selling their shares.

"That's harassment, that's not reasonable, that's plain and simple harassment."

The protestors traced Mr Braybrook from information available to anyone at Companies House but Dr Matfield said such data had always been made publicly available on the assumption that people would use it "sensibly and reasonably".

'Unreasonable'

He said: "I don't think animal rights activists protesting outside an old age pensioner's home just because he is a small investor is either sensible or reasonable."

Dr Matfield highlighted death threats and letter bombs directed in the past to people working within the pharmaceutical industry and he said this perceived threat from hardline anti-vivisectionists meant that medical researchers' addresses were not publicly accessible.

"When are they going to start sending the letter bombs just to shareholders?" he said.

He stressed that he supported the right to protest peacefully, he added: "Is this a legitimate protest?"

Huntingdon Life Sciences, in which Mr Braybrook is a minor shareholder, conducts tests on animals as part of research into a range of conditions, including cancer.

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24 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Labour row over animal tests
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