Activists win conference cancellation

By David GreenA CONFERENCE to be attended by staff from Huntingdon Life Sciences – the East Anglian research firm targeted by animal rights campaigners – has been called off after pressure on the owner of the venue.

By David Green

A CONFERENCE to be attended by staff from Huntingdon Life Sciences – the East Anglian research firm targeted by animal rights campaigners – has been called off after pressure on the owner of the venue.

The decision comes just days after Deloitte and Touche, one of the world's leading accountancy firms, quit as auditors for Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) following pressure from campaigners.

The Citywest Hotel in Dublin was invaded last week by members of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), the main group trying to close down HLS – which has laboratories in Occold, near Eye, and in Cambridgeshire.


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The activists also let off stink bombs and jammed the hotel's switchboard with protest calls.

Citywest Hotel had been due to host a conference organised by the Institute of Animal Technicians (IAT), a professional organisation whose members are in charge of the animals used in research laboratories.

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But it was revealed yesterday the event, scheduled for April 10 and 11, had been cancelled.

An HLS spokesman said the cancellation would hit scheduled discussions about the future of animal welfare in research establishments.

"Most of the Institute's members are from academia and our staff comprise only a small fraction of the total membership," he added.

IAT spokeswoman, Ann Shaw, said the cancellation was due to "violence and intimidation" by a handful of extremists.

"The hotel has cancelled the booking due to attacks on its facilities, staff and guests by anonymous animal rights extremists who claim that frightening people enjoying a Sunday trip to the hotel with their families and friends was fun," she added.

Ms Shaw pointed out members of the institute were committed to animal welfare.

SHAC spokeswoman, Natasha Avery, said Citywest Hotel had been put under "relentless" pressure to cancel the conference.

"The cancellation has occurred despite leading UK scientists and directors of pharmaceutical companies writing many letters appealing for the hotel to withstand the pressure. It is a real slap in the face for the industry," she added.

The conference will be re-scheduled for later in the year at an alternative venue.

A spokeswoman for Citywest Hotel confirmed the conference had been cancelled, but declined to comment further.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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