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Last Updated: Monday, 9 February, 2004, 15:23 GMT
Legal threat to animal activists
Huntingdon Life Sciences
The centre said it would take its own action to stop vandals
A Cambridgeshire laboratory could use private prosecutions to prevent animal activists from allegedly targeting its staff, suppliers and customers.

Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) has complained to the Director of Public Prosecutions about a lack of action against "violent" protesters.

It is now looking at using civil action to prevent violence and vandalism.

HLS said there had been 60 recent acts of vandalism by animal campaigners who claim their protests are peaceful.

The centre is considering using a team of private lawyers and investigators to bring legal action against anyone vandalising its premises or targeting its staff.

Forced decision

Brian Cass, of HLS, told BBC Look East: "Vehicles have been damaged either with paint stripper or with red paint, premises have been daubed, roads have been daubed and windows have been broken at people's homes.

"What's most concerning is that half of those have occurred in the last five weeks.

"If we really cannot get co-ordinated, concerted police and Crown Prosecution Service action then we will be forced to look at civil routes ourselves."

animal protesters
Animal protesters said their demonstrations are peaceful

In a statement Cambridgeshire Police said attacks had been a problem but there were moves to ensure the actions of extremists were curbed.

"It has been difficult to obtain convictions against activists," the statement said.

"Recently extremists' tactics of targeting employees at home has increased.

"The police service is now setting up a national co-ordinating unit with the remit of ensuring a more effective policing response."

Animal rights campaigners said they did not know who was behind the violence and they supported legitimate, peaceful protests.

One of HLS's potential business partners, the Chiron Corporation, has been granted an injunction to exclude activists from around its premises and employees' homes.

The High Court heard on Monday that animal rights protesters had targeted the company to try to prevent it building a business relationship with HLS.

Protesters banned at staff homes
09 Feb 04  |  London
Animal protesters march through town
06 Dec 03  |  Cambridgeshire
Activists protest at animal lab
11 Oct 03  |  Cambridgeshire
Debate on future of animal lab
07 Oct 03  |  Cambridgeshire
Stalker laws to block activists
27 Aug 03  |  Cambridgeshire
Lab firm injunction continues
20 Jun 03  |  Cambridgeshire

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