British Pharmaceutical Association Says Number of Violent Animal Rights Attacks Down

In August, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry issued a press release saying that the number of attacks by animal rights activists were down in the first half of 2005 compared to 2004, but that the organization is concerned by a number of extremely dangerous attempted attacks earlier this year.

According to the ABPI, there were just two cases of damage to company property by animal rights activists through June 2005, compared to 29 such incidents during the same period in 2004.

Attacks on private property of pharmaceutical company employees was also down, from 56 in the first half of 2004 to just 35 instances in the first half of 2005.

The ABPI credits new efforts by the British government to crack down on violent animal rights extremism.

ABPI director of science and technology Philip Wright said in a press release,

However, the figures indicate that Government’s commitment to tackling the problem of extremism is starting to pay off, and we hope that both the commitment and the drop in incidents continue. At the same time, the number of legal demonstrations has remained at the same level, so the right of people to protest in normal, democratic ways has not been compromised.

But the organization is still concerned by two incidents earlier this year in which bombs were left at the homes of individuals connected with the pharmaceutical industry. Wright said,

While the reduction in the number of incidents is welcome, it is disturbing that, in some cases we are seeing more aggressive attacks taking place. In particular, we are seeing cases where incendiary devices have been attached to cars, which is a very worrying change of tactics.


Fewer violent protests. Heather Tomlinson, The Guardian, August 2, 2005.

Fewer but more aggressive animal extremist attacks recorded. Press Release, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, August 2, 2005.

Research Group Says Animal Rights Extremism Increasing in UK

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry released figures in January suggesting that the number of attacks on suppliers of pharmaceutical firms by animal rights extremists is increasing and suggested that unless the government does more to control this problem it may drive pharmaceutical companies out of the UK.

According to the ABPI, 42 companies quit supplying animal research firms in the fourth quarter of 2004 due to pressure from animal rights extremists. The group reported that in the first quarter, 22 firms bowed to pressure, in the second quarter 23, and in the third quarter 26, bringing the total for the year to 113. The ABPI also documented more than 108 cases of campaigns of threatening and abusive phone calls and 177 instance of property damage to the property of British companies and their employees by animal rights extremists.

Philip Wright, ABPI’s director of science and technology, told Reuters,

The fact that more and more suppliers are being forced to drop their business with companies involved in animals research in especially ominous. If this trend continues, it is by no means fanciful to suggest that pharmaceutical companies will seriously considered whether it is still appropriate to carry out this essential research work in the UK.


U.K Animal Rights Activists Scare Away Suppliers, Group Says. Bloomberg, January 19, 2005.

Animal protests scare drug firm suppliers. Reuters, January 19, 2005.

Animal Rights Attacks on the Rise in UK

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry reported the obvious in May — the number of violent attacks by animal rights extremists in Great Britain is on the rise.

The ABPI compared the number of attacks in the first quarter of 2004 compared to the same time period in 2003. It found a rise in animal rights vandalism — in most cases, applying corrosive fluids to automobiles owned by researchers or by employees of firms that conduct business with such firms — as well as a rise in activists harassing employees at their homes.

The Independent quoted an ABPI spokesman as saying,

Pouring corrosive fluid, like brake fluid or paint stripper, on vehicles, and spraying graffiti on homes and roadways seem to be the favorite forms of attack for these criminals. The arrests [of numerous activist in March 2004] may have helped reduce attacks, but none of these cases has yet led to a conviction.

And even if they do result in a conviction, just how much time will those convicted serve? As Mark Matfield of Victims of Animal Rights Extremism told The Independent, so far activists have received nothing more than a wrist slap,

I’ve been watching animal rights activists for 15 years now, and what I’ve seen is that a slap on the wrist doesn’t deter them. They regard a few months inside almost as a badge of honor. The only thing that actually works is longer sentences of four years or more.

VARE is among a number of organizations asking the British government to pass a specific law to crack down on animal rights extremism similar to the Animal Enterprise Protection Act in the United States.

“If you had specific legislation,” Matfield told The Independent, “you could make the penalties more severe for acts of animal rights extremist directed at places of medical research, without increasing legislation against protests per se which might infringe civil liberties.”


Animal rights extremists step up attacks. Ciar Byrne, The Independent (UK), May 24, 2004.