Huntingdon’s 11th hour reprieve

Posted on the 1st March 2001

The campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) has been top of the national news agenda. When the Royal Bank of Scotland threatened to call in its £22.5 million overdraft facility, financial ruin seemed certain for HLS until anonymous American backers stepped into the breach. But with the City having lost confidence in HLS and the grass roots campaign led by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) set to remain as unrelenting as ever, the financial lifeline looked no more than a stay of execution.

As HLS teetered, national media coverage was hysterically pro-Huntingdon and anti-animal rights. Egged on by the government and the pharmaceutical/ biotech industries, the media painted HLS as a centre of excellence pouring out a torrent of life-saving medicines. But, as these words are written, some truth is seeping through.

The campaign against HLS goes back more than 20 years but took on fresh impetus following a March 1997 Channel 4 undercover documentary which showed beagle dogs being gratuitously beaten and screamed at by HLS workers, and which revealed evidence of the recording of faulty research data.

Under pressure from the SHAC campaign, a succession of major shareholders, such as the Labour party, pension fund manager Phillips & Drew and the Bank of New York, have offloaded millions of shares in HLS. The share price reached rock bottom. Then, on January 19, came the decision by the Royal Bank of Scotland not to extend its £22.5 million overdraft facility that had been keeping the company afloat.


  • Check out Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. PO Box 381, Cheltenham, Glos, GL50 1YN. Tel 0121 632 6460.

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