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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 August, 2003, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
Stalker laws to block activists
Huntingdon Life Sciences protesters
Companies using HLS research allege harassment by activists
Companies and individuals targeted by animal rights activists have been granted exclusion zones under a law originally designed to protect people from stalkers.

Mr Justice Davis granted the exclusion orders at the High Court under the Protection from Harassment Act after hearing that seven corporate customers of drugs testing firm Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) were being targeted by protesters.

Mr Timothy Lawson-Cruttendon, representing the UK branches of the Japanese companies, said offices and the homes of individual employees and directors had been attacked.

He said harassment took the form of threatening letters and phone calls, sending letters to neighbours alleging directors are paedophiles or sex offenders, painting slogans, smashing windows and assault.

The orders, to stop activists going near named homes and offices, will remain in force until a full hearing early in October.

Law designed for individual victims

Protesters affected include activists involved in Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), the Animal Liberation Front and the Animal Rights Militia.

Mr Justice Davis said it would be for the main hearing to decide whether a law designed to protect people from stalkers could be used to protect companies.

Similar orders won by Huntingdon Life Sciences under the Protection from Harassment Act are to be challenged at the Court of Appeal later this year.

Huntingdon Life Sciences
HLS has research centres in Suffolk and Cambridgeshrie
HLS won orders in June banning members of SHAC from approaching the drugs testing company's headquarters and 50-yard exclusion zones around the homes of employees.

The judge said SHAC, and those involved in the group, held the "strongest possible" views against live animal vivisection.

He said he had heard evidence that the protesters were no longer targeting HLS, but were now moving towards the company's customers.

This alleged campaign of harassment had led the seven companies to seek help from the High Court but he adjourned the hearing into this until early October.

Mr Justice Davis granted the exclusion zone orders until the full hearing.

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