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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 May, 2004, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Animal activists to defend claims
Huntingdon Life Sciences
HLS is seeking permanent anti-harassment injuctions
Four animal rights protestors have been given the chance to defend themselves against accusations of a terror campaign against a research company.

Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) wants permanent anti-harassment injunctions against animal rights groups as well as named individuals.

But Mr Justice Mackay ruled campaigners were entitled to a chance to defend themselves, opening the way to a trial.

He continued a temporary injunction banning harassment of HLS staff.

HLS is Britain's biggest testing laboratory, with research centres in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.

'Compelling case'

In court on Wednesday, HLS, which says it has been the victim of an "unlawful" campaign by the organisation Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), sought to have the defence of four named individuals "struck out".

However Mr Justice Mackay said there was a "compelling case" for the matter to be tried.

Pending the trial he continued a temporary injunction against the four, previously granted under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 to HLS managing director Brian Cass on behalf of more than 1,000 employees.

He also continued the temporary injunction against SHAC.

The judge also granted HLS a permanent injunction against another seven defendants, who had played no part in the proceedings before him - London Animal Action and Animal Liberation Front and six named individuals.

Exclusion zones

The injunction states that protesters be restrained from pursuing a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of HLS employees and their families.

It also bans them from approaching within 50 yards of the homes of the employees and places exclusion zones at the two research centres.

The four named defendants given the chance to fight the case were Greg and Natasha Avery, Heather James and Claire Percy, who had all entered a defence to HLS's claims, denying the use of unlawful activity.

Mr Justice Mackay said that he believed the claimants, HLS and Mr Cass, had a "formidable" case which appeared likely to proceed, but he was not satisfied there was no real prospect of a successful defence for the four defendants.

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20 Jun 03  |  Cambridgeshire

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