Animal Extremists Threaten Huntingdon Lab's American Backer

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ACTIVISTS CAMPAIGNING for the closure of the animal testing company Huntingdon Life Sciences have pledged to make its new American backer an example to deter other United States firms.

Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (Shac) said it would mobilise 70,000 supporters across the Atlantic to damage the interests of Stephens Group, which was revealed yesterday as the firm that saved the laboratory from financial collapse.

The Arkansas-based investment company, which is Huntingdon's biggest shareholder with a 15.7 per cent stake, has lent it pounds 10m and paid off pounds 11m of debt owed to two US banks.

The Financial Services Authority, the UK watchdog, granted Stephens the right to anonymity last weekend in a move aimed at preventing protests, but its identity was discovered within days.

Greg Avery, of Shac, said: "We will financially damage Stephens in America, Britain and Europe ... They will become the sole focus of Shac America." He said Stephens had already spent $100,000 (pounds 70,000) on a failed court case to block the use of the web address stephenskills.com by Shac's New York office. "We will turn that into tens of millions of dollars," said Mr Avery. "Stephens will be the American lesson to leave Huntingdon alone and our message to companies involved with them is simple; if you deal with Stephens you've got a problem with us."

The group has linked up with the US pressure group In Defense of Animals and is mailing details to its 70,000 supporters across the Atlantic. Mr Avery said Shac would use "every available angle" to persuade Stephens to drop its interest and to deter other investors. …