- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 13, 2006

LONDON — Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday accused radical animal rights activists of “stooping to appalling depths,” and he began an impassioned defense of animal testing for medical research.

“There is no alternative for the foreseeable future to using animals if we are to see the full benefits of scientific advances,” Mr. Blair wrote in the Sunday Telegraph. “It is research which has helped hundreds of millions of people through vaccines to eradicate mass killers such as smallpox and medicines and procedures to treat incurable conditions like heart complaints.

“Research, too, which holds out the hope in tandem with other scientific advances such as genetic modification of extraordinary breakthroughs in treating and preventing diseases as varied as cancer, muscular dystrophy and Alzheimer’s,” he wrote.

The publication of Mr. Blair’s letter followed a week in which a court sentenced three animal rights activists to 12 years’ confinement and a fourth to four years for a terrorist campaign against an English guinea-pig breeder that included digging up the remains of the breeder’s mother-in-law.

What began as a peaceful protest outside the gates of Darley Oaks Farm in the hamlet of Newchurch in 1999 escalated into threats, intimidation and even violence against the owners and any person or business linked to the farm — including a pedophile smear campaign, death threats, hate mail, malicious phone calls, hoax bombs and arson attacks against the owners, the pub where they drank, their golf club and even their cleaners.

In October 2004, animal rights extremists stole the remains of the 82-year-old mother-in-law of one of the farm owners from a churchyard in a nearby village. The body was not recovered until earlier this month, after one of the defendants revealed its location.

Animal rights campaigners also have attempted to blackmail small shareholders of GlaxoSmithKline, a major pharmaceutical company, into selling their holdings.

The farming family — whose business collapsed in recent years because of the protest — said after the case that they look forward to a normal life again, Agence France-Press said in a dispatch covering the trial.

In a statement after the sentencing, farm owner John Hall and his daughter, Sally-Ann, said the activists had achieved nothing because “the biomedical industry and animal testing continues without us and is essential for medical progress,” Agence France-Press reported.


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