Animal campaigners renew protest at drug-test plant

Scores of animal rights protesters have gathered outside a beleaguered drug-testing company.

Scores of animal rights protesters have gathered outside a beleaguered drug-testing company.

The Huntingdon Life Sciences plant in Suffolk managed to stave off bankruptcy after deal with anonymous US backers.

Demonstrators were greeted by a heavy police presence with officer filming and noting details of every car approaching the plant.

The demonstrators have warned the company that its unnamed new financiers would be "tracked down and taught a lesson".

HLS is one of Europe's leading drug research firms. It became a target for protest after workers were filmed kicking and beating dogs used for testing three years ago.

The firm announced yesterday it had refinanced a £22.6 million loan due to be repaid to the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The bank accepted a nominal £1 payment in return for an outstanding £11 million overdraft in a secret deal brokered by the Government, reports the Independent on Sunday.

The rest of the £22.6 million loan was laid off to two US banks - Allfirst, an American subsidiary of Dublin-based Allied Irish Banks, and Comerica, based in Detroit.

The banks were told the cash would be repaid by HLS's new backers, who have been granted anonymity by the Financial Services Authority.

HLS executive chairman Andrew Baker said: "This has been a very stressful time for our workforce and worrying for our customers, but we are pleased to put to rest the question of our company's financial viability."

But Heather James, of campaign group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty said she had little doubt that protesters would find the identities of the new backers, adding: "We will find out who they are and we will track them down and teach them a lesson so that no other company is tempted to put money into HLS like this."

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