Intimidation puts life science industry in turmoil

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The Independent Online
Suppliers, advisers and contractors are giving up dealing with the life sciences industry at the rate of one a week because of increased intimidation from animal rights extremists.</p>The figures, collated by the pharmaceuticals industry, show a rise in the number of attacks and come as victims lobbied Parliament yesterday for a new law to crack down on anti-vivisection violence. They set out stories of midnight fire-bombings, the daubing of graffiti and leafleting of neighbours.</p>Thirteen companies ceased trading with the life sciences industry in the last three months of 2003, and 12 more stopped in the first two months of this year. The rate was one or two a quarter at the start of last year.</p>There has also been an increase in the incidents of criminal damage, with homes and cars of some employees targeted with graffiti and paint-stripper. There have been 23 such attacks since the start of the year.</p>Philip Wright of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said: "The level of protests and the number of people involved had stayed the same for two years since the start of a campaign of home visits. But now there seem to be more; they are increasingly in the middle of the night, and with more violence."</p>A support group for victims was launched yesterday by Mark Matfield, of the Research Defence Society, and Brian Cass, managing director, of Huntingdon Life Sciences. Mr Cass was attacked outside his home in 2001, at the height of the campaign against the company, which conducts animal experiments on behalf of drug developers. Huntingdon Life Sciences was forced to de-list after some of its shareholders and brokers were attacked.</p>About 100 victims of violence and intimidation went to Parliament with the new group, Victims of Animal Rights Extremism (Vare). Mr Cass said: "These attacks may be just one or two events, but they live with you. What happened to me is well known, but it doesn't stop with you. It spreads to your family. My brother had his home trashed just because he was my brother." </p>