Police made 87 arrests following a series of demonstrations and break-ins by UK animal rights activists last weekend. The protests, organised by campaign group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (Shac) targeted five pharmaceutical companies: Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Roche and Pharmacia.
Hundreds of protesters took part in attacks on the laboratories and offices of the firms, smashing windows and laboratory equipment. The campaigners also surrounded the homes of directors of Roche and Pharmacia. Shac claims that all the companies targeted are customers of Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), the contract animal research firm recently saved from closure.
A spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline condemned attacks on the firm's premises in Slough and Weybridge, saying that the violent action 'was clearly designed to disrupt work and terrorise employees'. Thames Valley Police says it hopes to bring charges against all those involved.
Lord Winston, during a debate at the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, voiced concern about the pressure put upon scientists by press reporting of the issue: 'Perceived pressure may persuade people to go down a route which is not going to promote human welfare', he said.