Adverts: 0161 709 4576 - Editorial: 0161 709 4571
Mail Order: 0161 709 4578 - Subs: 0161 709 4575 - Webteam: 0161 709 4567

(Updated 09/03/01)

Laboratory protest goes ahead despite foot and mouth concern

Animal rights activists staged a protest outside drugs testing firm Huntingdon Life Sciences last Sunday, despite fears they could be spreading the foot-and-mouth virus.

HLS management, the local constabulary and the National Farmers Union earlier pleaded with the protestors, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) to call off their demonstration for fear of spreading the disease further.
A spokesman for the National Farmers Union said that protesters risked bringing foot-and-mouth into Suffolk.
“In Suffolk, footpaths and bridleways have been closed as they have in neighbouring counties,” said the spokesman. “There are livestock farms in the Occold area and farmers are obviously very concerned about foot-and-mouth being spread. We would urge the organisers to call off this demonstration.

“The less people move around the countryside at the moment the better and anyone who cares about animals should take notice of that.

“The reality is that if someone did bring the foot and mouth virus into the area then hundreds of animals would have to be slaughtered. That is the simple truth.

“There is also the risk of spreading the virus to the wildlife population. There are a lot of deer in the area who can also contract foot and mouth.”

However, a spokesman for Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty said he could see no reason to postpone the demo in Occold, Suffolk. SHAC stated that they viewed Foot and Mouth “not as an animal welfare issue but as a production issue” and would continue to stage their protests.

Jim Baxter, a spokesman for HLS told OUR DOGS: “We fully support peoples’ right to protest peacefully, but not if the protests break the law in any way, or cross the line into violence, such as when our Managing Director was beaten by three men with baseball bats recently.”

SHAC protestors could find themselves facing arrest if they stage further demonstrations outside the facility due to the emergency FMD restrictions.