Huntingdon may lose its licence

Huntingdon Life Sciences, the controversial group which tests drugs on animals, may have its operating licence revoked, following a Home Office investigation into allegations of animal cruelty which revealed "extremely serious" failures within the company. Removing Huntingdon's licence could shut the group down with the loss of 1,400 jobs.

The Home Office began its investigation in March following a disturbing Channel 4 documentary showing scenes of cruelty to dogs at Huntingdon's Cambridgeshire Laboratories.

In a statement to Parliament, Lord Williams, Home Office Minister said yesterday that inspection of Huntingdon's laboratories had found "short- comings relating to the care, treatment and handling of animals."

The report criticised Huntingdon's delegation of health checking to "new staff of undetermined competence" which showed its laboratories were "not appropriately staffed and that animals were not at all times provided with adequate care".

However, the Home Office report was more designed to give Huntingdon a humiliating, public ticking-off than prevent the company operating, according to some observers.

The statement said that the Secretary of State would not revoke the licence immediately, but from 30 November to avoid the destruction of an extraordinary array of animals. "We estimate that up to 1,000 dogs; 10 baboons; 200 marmosets; 450 macaques; 13,000 mice; 35,000 rats; 2,000 rabbits; 4,000 guinea pigs; 3,000 birds; 4,000 fish ... would have to be destroyed," Lord Williams said. Also, because of the potential loss of jobs, Huntingdon may be granted another licence "if the Secretary of State can be assured that measures have been put in place to prevent any recurrence of the events shown in the television programme".

Mike Baker, chief executive of BUAV, the respected animal rights campaigners said: "Although we welcome this action, it raises more questions than it answers. The suspension of Huntingdon's licence should be permanent to show the seriousness of the breaches. This is not an isolated incident."

Christopher Cliffe, Huntingdon's chief executive said he was surprised that the Home Office had made its views public. "We recognise we had weaknesses, but we can respond constructively to this. However analysts were concerned that the reprimand would further damage Huntingdon's business. In June, the group's shares crashed 15 per cent after it warned that full- year profits would be hit by a loss of customer confidence and "disappointing orders" following the allegations.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...

Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

Guru Careers: Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant

£16 - 20k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant is needed to ...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine