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Roger Spiller, MSF union
"It is not acceptable for it (the bank) to respond to the animal extremists"
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Friday, 19 January, 2001, 09:36 GMT
Boycott threat to bank
Royal Bank of Scotland cashline
The Royal is under pressure to call in the loan
Union leaders are threatening to boycott the Royal Bank of Scotland if it fails to extend a 22m loan to a controversial science lab.

A decision is due on Friday on whether to bail out Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) in Cambridge.

The centre, along with the bank and its shareholders, has been targeted by activists because it experiments on animals.

Roger Spiller of the Manufacturing Science and Finance union, which represents lab workers, told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland on Friday that a boycott was being considered.

We could ask our members and others to withdraw support from the bank, take away their accounts and not use its banking facilities

Roger Spiller, MSF union
He said: "We are saying to the bank that it is not acceptable for it to respond to the animal extremists who have been using violence against workers at Huntingdon and then go and pull the plug on those workers.

"So we have told them that if they give way we will organise an economic boycott of the bank whereby we could ask our members and others to withdraw support from the bank, take away their accounts and not use its banking facilities."

HLS has been accused of cruelty by animal rights activists, who want the bank to refuse to extend the loan.

If the Royal announces a withdrawal of help on Friday, HLS has said it could face closure.

Vow to carry on

Bank bosses inherited the loan when they took over the NatWest bank last year.

The deadline has already been extended three times.

Campaigners allege that animals are tortured by HLS and they have vowed to close it down.

Professor Chris Higgins, director of the Medical Research Council's Clinical Sciences Centre, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the Huntingdon case forced Britain to face up to a "stark choice".

Huntingdon scientist
The firm has been targeted by animal rights activists
He said: "If we want improvements to health care and medical research, we simply have to have a certain amount of experiments which involve animals.

"If we don't have experiments which involve animals, we won't have improvements in health care and we will lose hope for the millions of people who suffer from Alzheimer's, Aids, cancer for medical treatments for them and their children.

"This is one company but it is the thin end of the wedge.

"In this country we have the tightest regulations in the world which regulate animal studies and they are tightly imposed by the Home Office and I think it is therefore justified that such work carries on.

"The government has to act to prevent these people behaving unlawfully and to allow the company to go about its lawful business."

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