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Animal rights extremists have been banned from approaching hundreds of business premises in the most far-reaching High Court injunction of its kind yet granted.


16 September 2005
Daily Mail

ANIMAL rights extremists have been banned from approaching hundreds of business premises in the most far-reaching High Court injunction of its kind yet granted.

The order obtained by DHL establishes an exclusion zone for anti-vivisection campaigners around all 288 of the parcel firm's offices and depots in Britain. It also covers the homes of DHL's 18,000 workers.

The company's staff have suffered a year-long campaign of attacks on their cars and homes and been bombarded with threatening hate mail because of their dealings with animal testing company Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Mr Justice Bean banned protesters from going within 50 yards of any DHL premises and outlawed any demonstrations within 100 yards unless campaigners give police at least four hours notice.

The interim injunction also forbids protesters from harassing, intimidating or pestering DHL staff, their families or anyone visiting the company's premises.

Anyone breaking the injunction can be arrested and could be jailed. DHL hopes the costly legal move will strike a blow against extremist campaigners, who last month forced a Staffordshire farm producing guinea pigs for research to withdraw from the trade after 15 years.

While Huntingdon Life Sciences has withstood years of campaigning, extremists are increasingly switching their attention to companies which deal with the laboratories.

Banks as well as insurance, security and pharmaceutical companies have faced noisy protests, office invasions, vandalism, arson, bomb hoaxes and abusive mail and phone calls.

Last week a bid by Huntingdon Life Sciences to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange was refused at the last minute after campaigners threatened to target the exchange.

DHL's lawyer, Tim Lawson-Cruttenden, told the High Court that the firm was clearly the campaign's 'next target'. Mr Justice Bean agreed to ban even peaceful protests within 50 yards of the perimeter of any DHL office or depot. Within 100 yards campaigners can protest with loudhailers, but must give police at least four hours notice. A similar 100-yard exclusion zone applies to DHL employees' homes.

The campaign group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty - which denies any connection with illegal acts of protest - formally accepted the injunction. Several campaigners also gave their consent on an individual basis including Greg Avery, a spokesman for the group, who was convicted in 2000 of threatening to kill a Huntingdon Life Sciences executive.

Melanie Loram, another lawyer for DHL, said after the hearing that in one attack on a depot in Poole, Dorset, protesters poured paint stripper on cars and slashed tyres.

She said: 'The protests are immensely disruptive, noisy and intimidating and they cause DHL staff distress'.

'If somebody wants to put on a balaclava and do something anonymously in the middle of the night, no injunction will stop them. But this will make things harder for most protesters.'

Dr Simon Festing, of the Research Defence Society, said the injunction would help but added: 'Why should a company have to spend a couple of hundred thousand pounds taking out these injunctions because it is a victim of protests?'

The Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign was unavailable for comment.

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