City's £10m plan to curb violent protest

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The Independent Online

The City is considering offering rewards of up to £10m for the arrest and prosecution of individuals who mount campaigns against companies similar to the one which drove Huntingdon Life Sciences, the animal testing group, to the brink of collapse.

The City is considering offering rewards of up to £10m for the arrest and prosecution of individuals who mount campaigns against companies similar to the one which drove Huntingdon Life Sciences, the animal testing group, to the brink of collapse.

The influential National Association of Pension Funds is planning to hold meetings with the Home Office, Metropolitan Police and other City bodies to formulate a plan to try to prevent a repeat of the campaign of intimidation against Huntingdon, which was forced to de-list in 2002 after animal rights campaigners terrorised its staff and those of companies it did business with.

One option being considered by the NAPF is to offer a high financial reward to people who inform on the highly organised groups such as Shac, which targeted Huntingdon. Other possibilities include setting up a fund financed by the City for more detectives and extra police or even to hire a private protection force.

Robin Ellison, a partner at the law firm Pinsents and a member of the NAPF investment committee, said: "The NAPF has been considering this for some time but the recent increase in terrorism has made people more willing to do something about it." Geoff Lindey, the head of investment at the NAPF, said: "Whatever your moral point of view about Huntingdon, it was doing nothing illegal and it will happen again at other companies so we must act collectively."

Shac's campaign against Huntingdon, which tests drugs on animals, forced the resignation of its auditors Deloitte & Touche, its broker HSBC and its banks, forcing the Government to step in to be its lender of last resort.

The NAPF fears that the producers of armaments and those in other controversial industries could be at risk, as well as companies that are vulnerable to animal rights groups. It wants the City to offer more investment to the police and it also wants businessmen to co-operate more in handing over information. Mr Ellison said: "People don't want to admit they have been threatened but that information would be very useful if it was passed on to the police."

Mr Lindey told the NAPF conference in Edinburgh last week that the energetic campaign by his organisation against companies over issues such as payment for failure and poor corporate governance would continue but he emphasised that it was completely different from "investment terrorism" which he said must be combated.

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