AstraZeneca wins animal rights injunction

Posted: 13th May 2014

RCJPharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca UK Limited has won a High Court injunction against animal rights campaigners who it feared would pose a serious threat to construction of its proposed new headquarters and research laboratories in Cambridge.

The company argued that it had for several years been 'the main target of a concerted campaign' by members of animal rights group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC). It planned to carry out testing on live animals at its state-of-the-art new plant and anticipated that protestors would step up their activities as a result.

AstraZeneca's lawyers described SHAC as ‘a notorious quasi-terrorist organization’ whose supporters had previously targeted the Anglo-Scandinavian group's staff in Sweden. It was submitted that the company’s staff would be exposed to serious intimidation, harassment and threats if no injunction were granted.

The company argued that the rights of campaigners to peacefully protest would be amply protected by the tightly drafted terms of the order sought and, in granting the injunction, the Court observed, "It is clear that SHAC and those closely associated with it have carried out a campaign of harassment against AstraZeneca over a number of years."

The injunction – which was granted against two named individuals and ‘persons unknown’ – means that SHAC adherents are banned from entering land owned by AstraZeneca, or the property of its protected employees, and from pursuing any course of conduct deemed by a court to amount to harassment of the company's staff.