Huntingdon Life Sciences managing director Brian Cass has been appointed as a Commander in The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, the third-highest highest rank in the Order of the British Empire (and just shy of knighthood).
Cass was assaulted by violent animal rights thugs in 2001 and the award was seen by British commentators as a signal from the Labour government that it is serious about curtailing animal rights violence.
Along with Cass, a number of others in the pharmaceutical industry including Ian Pollock Sword, chairman of Inveresk Research, and GIll Samuels, of Pfizer, were appointed CBe.
Cass told The Times of London,
It [the award] is very special for me as an individual, but, much more importantly, there couldn’t be a clearer signal of support from the Government, and indeed from society for all those who are involved in research in this sector.
All our people share in this honour, as they have been so resolute in standing up to this pretty awful intimidation we have had to put up with for the past three or four years.
Richard Ley of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry agreed, telling The Times of London,
Brian deserves this award. It does send a very positive message to those who are involved in the research and development of medicines, and to those who conduct the animal experiments that are a vital part of that.
The BBC quoted an unnamed spokesperson for the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection criticizing the award,
I am appalled that in the face of growing public concern that the government has made this symbolic award. It shows the extent of HLS’s high-level support.
Greg Avery of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty said that,
It’s disgusting that someone who causes 500 animal deaths every single day should be awarded a CBE. ‘It casts a long shadow over people who have been awarded them for good reasons. It’s not Tony Blair’s voice we hear now but that of the global companies for whom he has become a mouthpiece.’
And, of course, there were politicians displaying the sort of “lets give in to the extremist” attitudes that are driving medical research out of Great Britain. Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrats’ Home Affairs spokesman, said of the award,
I’m very surprised. It’s a political statement by the Prime Minister to demonstrate his commitment to science, but it’s probably ill-judged and unduly provocative. Tony Blair is right to say we must support science but he must recognize that what’s been done at HLS is extremely controversial.
Yeah, do not do anything “unduly provocative” while animal rights extremists are busy assaulting pharmaceutical company employees and driving pharmaceutical companies to the United States and elsewhere. Just appease them and hope they’ll go away. Yeah, that’s a winning strategy.
CBE for animal test boss. Mark Milner, The Guardian (London), June 15, 2002.
Scientists praise CBE for battered boss of animal research labs. Mark Henderson, The Times (London), June 15, 2002.
Controversial lab director gets award. The BBC, June 15, 2002.
Head of animal research laboratory appointed CBE. Christopher Adams and Krishna Guha, The Financial Times (London), June 15, 2002.
Fury at CBE for Huntingdon boss. Lucy McDonald, ThisIsMoney.Com, June 16, 2002.