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‘Huntingdon’ auditor forced out by activists

THE CHIEF Executive of the beleaguered Huntingdon life Sciences research facility has called for stronger laws against animal rights activism after Deloitte & Touche resigned as auditors for the drugs-testing company.

Deloitte would not comment on why it had resigned, but it is known to have been the subject of sustained protest from Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), which printed details of employees' home addresses on its website and visited their homes.

"They have been the subject of a pretty vicious campaign," said Chief Executive Brian Cass, who was himself attacked with a baseball bat two years ago.

"I have no grudge against [Deloitte] for pulling out, and I fully understand what they have suffered but I think this has a lot to say about the British law and order system."

Pledged

Huntingdon was forced to withdraw its London financial listing after sustained attacks prompted brokers and banks to stop dealing with the business. The Government pledged to tighten the law to protect Huntingdon, and also became banker of last resort to the business. However, Mr Cass said yesterday that there needed to be better laws.

He said: "We need a stronger piece of legislation," adding that although activists could be arrested if they refused to move from outside people's homes after being asked by police, there was no rule against them gathering there in the first place.

"This is intimidation against a perfectly legitimate business," he said. "If it is used against us then it could be anyone against smoking, abortion or the environment," he said.

A spokesman for SHAC, which last week claimed to have a "mole" in Deloitte & Touche collecting names and addresses of employees and directors, said yesterday its tactics were legitimate.

She said: "We are delighted. We are a hundred percent certain this is due to our campaign, but Deloitte should have pulled out many years ago. What is going on at HLS is torture, and if you are involved in it then you will have demonstrations outside your home. Whoever is foolish enough to take the place of Deloitte & Touche will be targeted relentlessly until they relinquish ties with Huntingdon Life Sciences."

Mr Cass said there would be no problem with getting a new auditor, although he would not say what the process would be or which firm would replace Deloitte.