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Animal right activists protest

ANIMAL RIGHTS activists protested outside the London office of Axa, the French insurer, last week as part of a campaign to shut down Huntingdon Life Sciences, the animal testing company.
About a dozen protesters from Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (Shac) gathered outside Axa's UK head office in Old Broad Street in the City of London, and at its general insurance operation on nearby Aldgate.

Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) is one of the world's biggest contract research companies, conducting experiments on dogs, rats and monkeys for drugs and chemical companies.
The protesters had targeting Axa because the company is a major investor in companies on the New York Stock Exchange, where the shares of Huntingdon's parent company are listed. Shac wants Axa and other investors to put pressure on the NYSE to delist the shares.

Shac has campaigned for eight years to close Huntingdon and has targeted investors and suppliers to put pressure on the company, whose shares collapsed as a result. Extremists have firebombed cars and intimidated staff and shareholders.

Shac claims that Huntingdon kills 500 animals a day in tests for products such as weed killer, food colouring and drugs.

Huntingdon was founded in 1952 in Cambridgeshire and expanded internationally. It hit the headlines in 1997 when an undercover TV programme revealed malpractices by some of the HLS staff, including cruelty to Beagles used for experimentation. The company’s license was suspended by the outgoing Conservative Government and HLS was told to address a number of issues to ‘clean up its act’. The incoming Labour Government restored the company’s license later that year, well ahead of the expected time.

An escalating campaign of intimidation from protesters drove the company out of Britain in 2002, when it moved its headquarters to New Jersey in the US and started trading as Life Sciences Research. But the company’s main laboratories remain in the UK.

In June, Shac protested outside the Paris offices of Euronext, which the NYSE bought in April.
In March, three Shac members were jailed for intimidating employees of suppliers to Huntingdon under a law designed to crack down on protesters interfering with companies going about their business.