LIVING IN A State of Siege; Special Investigation This Doctor Lives in Fear of His Life. Colleagues' Houses Have Been Firebombed. Their Families Terrorised. Their Crime? Using Animals to Test Drugs Which Could Prevent Countless Deaths. Now a Daily Mail Reporter Has Been Allowed through the Razor Wire of Britain's Premier Laboratory to Find out Just What Is Going On

Daily Mail (London), September 16, 2000 | Go to article overview
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LIVING IN A State of Siege; Special Investigation This Doctor Lives in Fear of His Life. Colleagues' Houses Have Been Firebombed. Their Families Terrorised. Their Crime? Using Animals to Test Drugs Which Could Prevent Countless Deaths. Now a Daily Mail Reporter Has Been Allowed through the Razor Wire of Britain's Premier Laboratory to Find out Just What Is Going On


Byline: RICHARD PENDLEBURY

'WE try to make the best of it, but since the attack it has taken away a lot of the enjoyment of being at home,' he says.

'I am constantly bobbing up and down at the window to watch strangers in the street, wondering why they're there; I vary the route of my journey to and from work to make sure I'm not followed, and each morning I have to remember to look under the car in case someone has left a device there overnight.' He smiles, weakly: 'Some of my colleagues have been worse affected, mentally.

But I have a young family and I would be lying if I said I wasn't tense.'

THE only time I have heard something similar was from a prison officer in Northern Ireland. Before the paramilitary ceasefire, his job had impacted enormously on family life.

He was always looking over his shoulder. Probably always would be.

But the man talking to me yesterday was a doctor living in rural Cambridgeshire. He works at a laboratory which, among its various ongoing projects this week, is helping develop new treatments to combat Parkinson's disease, asthma, AIDS, heart disease and, primarily, cancer. Several 'breakthrough' medicines have already emerged from the site.

This scientist believes what he is doing is for the good of mankind. As a result, though, he has become a target for what can described, without exaggeration, as a terrorist campaign.

The man, who dares not be identified, works at the Huntingdon Research Centre (HRC), which is owned and run by British-based multinational company Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS).

It is a sprawling complex, located off a country lane close to the A1. The perimeter is enclosed by a fence topped by razor wire; guards patrol the grounds with dogs, and CCTV cameras scrutinise every vista.

Areas are floodlit at night.

From outside it looks like a prison. Naturally, there is a reason for this high-level security; HRC is Europe's largest animal testing laboratory. As such it is the focus for the most extreme animal rights campaign mounted anywhere in the world.

To certain people, HRC is an Auschwitz for animals; a place where monkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, rats and fish are gratuitously tortured and killed by the thousand every year, for vile profit.

The 750 people who work there, plus the directors and shareholders around the world are 'scum', murdering 'bitches' or 'bastards', depending on their gender. Hopefully they will die, soon, painfully, of cancer.

Meanwhile, they are to be put in fear of a more sudden, violent death. At the same time their lives are to be made a torturous, psychologically wearing, ordeal - until they crack and resign.

Since May there have been two separate nights of firebomb attacks against vehicles belonging to HLS staff.

In the latest incident, a fortnight ago in the village of God-manchester, near Cambridge, cars were destroyed outside three properties, also causing damage to houses in which children slept. Soon somebody is going to be seriously hurt.

YET this is only the most extreme expression so far of a hate-filled war of attrition against the staff, which started last year.

HLS is a contract researcher for the pharmaceutical, chemical, agrochemical and veterinary product industries.

Seventy five thousand animals are used in its research laboratories each year, the vast majority of them rodents (87pc are rats, 8 pc fish, 3 pc birds, 1pc dogs, 0.6 pc monkeys and 0.04pc cats in In the pharmaceutical industry, the bottom line is that new medicines cannot receive a Government licence for public use without being safely tested on animals. It is the law.

And until technology advances to provide satisfactory alternative models, is likely to remain so.

Yet animal testing is an ethical minefield; a skeleton in science's closet.

To many people it is morally insupportable under any circumstances; haven't we all seen the horrific vivisection photographs or shuddered at the idea of creatures suffering for our cosmetic vanity?

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LIVING IN A State of Siege; Special Investigation This Doctor Lives in Fear of His Life. Colleagues' Houses Have Been Firebombed. Their Families Terrorised. Their Crime? Using Animals to Test Drugs Which Could Prevent Countless Deaths. Now a Daily Mail Reporter Has Been Allowed through the Razor Wire of Britain's Premier Laboratory to Find out Just What Is Going On
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