In a previous piece, I noted that the AR extremist groups Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) and Stop Primate Experiments At Cambridge (Speac) had successfully used intimidation and vandalism to coerce Cambridge University into canceling construction of a new animal research facility. In short, Cambridge, who did business with Huntingdon Life Sciences, felt that they would be unable to adequately protect the facility or it's staff from AR terrorists. (SHAC's & Speac's) tactics are simplicity incarnate: they intimidate people and vandalize private and corporate property of those doing business with their target. If they can chase away clients, funding agencies and other sponsors, the target - in this case the company Huntingdon Life Sciences - will whither and die from economic isolation.)
I also noted that the AR success lighted a fire under Life Sciences Research, the parent company of Huntingdon Life Sciences, whose own people and whose clients (like Chiron) have been targeted by SHAC.
In light of SHAC's and Speac's Cambridge success, the targets of those groups are worried, pissed and are now fighting back (LSR is sick of waiting for the British government to take action against SHAC and is pursuing civil action, and Chiron is doing the same - see this, and this with mixed results so far). It was my hope that the AR victory at Cambridge would be a pyrrhic one, an event that would galvanize opposition to the AR tactics of intimidation and vandalism, of which the (civil) legal actions of Chiron and LSR were but the first signs.
It appears that others are joining the fray. In England, the influential National Association of Pension Funds is jumping in.
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." . . . .
Geoff Lindey is right: what happened at Cambridge will happen at other companies.
In fact, the AR victory at Cambridge sent a clear message to both sides that intimidation works. So not only has opposition coalesced against violent tactics, but AR extremists are now encouraged and are about to employ "protests" of the same intimidating sort that worked at Cambridge again, this time at Oxford:
Animal rights protesters said yesterday that they plan to target a new research laboratory at Oxford University as an extension to their campaign which forced primate experimentation at Cambridge to be scrapped. . . . .
Mel Broughton, of the Stop Primate Experimentation at Cambridge (Speac) coalition, said: "We have successfully taken on Cambridge and now we are targeting Oxford's proposals."
He claimed that the facility would be used, in part, by the university's experimental psychology department.
His group had evidence of it using primates in "horrible experiments".
Mr Broughton also suggested that Oxford was preparing to take on some of the work that would have been undertaken at Cambridge, a claim that was denied by the Oxford University spokesman.
Mr Broughton said that his group planned to bring "a great deal of pressure to bear" on the university, its institutions and those involved in animal experimentation.
Although work was already underway on the new facility, he said it was not too late to stop it.
"Only the foundations are in place," he said. "We believe we have a lot of support across the country and among the medical and research community." Mr Broughton said that his campaign would identify the contractors working on the site and he did not rule out protests at company headquarters as well as at Oxford itself.
He denied that they would use intimidation tactics.
"This accusation is always levelled against us," he said. "But we did not use intimidation at Cambridge and we do not intend to use it at Oxford." . . . .
Things are going to get interesting here - Broughton's denial that the AR people will use intimidation is laughable. They know that vandalism and intimidation work - they have the Cambridge proof - and I predict we'll see a repetition of the tactics used at Cambridge.
It will be very interesting to see whether or not the British government will again turn a blind eye when faced anew with the tactics of violence.
UPDATE: Edited for completeness 4/18/04
UPDATE: 2/6/2005. The NAPF has precipitously reversed course, and squashed any notion that it might provide substantial funding to oppose AR terrorists.