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New laws to combat animal rights extremists

Published on 14/05/04 at 11:36am

New legislation will be introduced to combat animal rights extremists' violence against those involved in using animals in medical research.

But the government appears to have ruled out using a single piece of legislation, citing concerns about how quickly it could be implemented, and instead proposed legislating on the key issues within another bill.

Science minister Lord Sainsbury told the House of Commons: "There is going to be new legislation, but the extent is still to be decided," adding: "Animal research must go ahead."

This is the first formal confirmation of the government's intention to legislate against the animal extremists who have waged a long-running campaign of violence, home visits and intimidation against companies linked to animal research.

Their most frequent target has been drug testing company Huntingdon Life Sciences: its customers, suppliers and financial backers. In 2001 the firm's chief executive Brian Cass was violently assaulted outside his home.

Earlier this year, after a major upsurge in attacks by animal rights activists, 12 companies providing services to pharmaceutical companies and animal breeders severed their links, according to a confidential ABPI report seen by The Guardian.

The plans for new legislation were given a cautious welcome by the Bioindustry Association, which has been calling for a change in the law for several months.

The Association's chief executive Aisling Burnand said it would prefer to see a bill dedicated to the aim, but added: "It remains the case, however, that one all-encompassing single piece of legislation, as drafted and presented to government, could, with government support, be swiftly implemented."

Meanwhile, the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) is considering offering a reward for information that leads to the conviction of animal rights extremists.

The Association, whose members control 20% of the shares on the UK stock market, is looking at a variety of ways to fight back against 'investment terrorism', including offering financial rewards to informants and setting up a fund to help meet the cost of extra police.

The NAPF is due to meet the Corporation of London and City institutions in the next month to draw up a strategy.


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