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Animal rights group pledges to hold weekly protests

Animal rights protesters have begun what they vow will be weekly protests outside the gates of a local firm.

Members of the Poole-based Southern Animal Rights Coalition set up camp outside the QinetiQ factory in Fort Road, Gosport, to protest about the firm's use of goats in pressure-chamber tests.

About 10 people spent hours outside the factory, shouting slogans through megaphones and beating drums.

The protest comes hot on the heels of last month's raid on QinetiQ by the Animal Liberation Front, as reported in The News, when activists stole nine goats from the firm to give to people to look after.
But this week's protesters themselves came under fire from a local resident, who said all the noise was scaring her horses.

Thelma Lynn of Waverley Path, Gosport, said: 'I own horses in a field next door to their protest -- the horses were all going mad because of the noise and disturbances. I asked them to stop or try to be quieter for the horses but they told me they didn't care and were going to carry on.'

Dave Thompson, 25, head of the animal rights group, denied the claim. He said that although the horses were several hundred yards away, they had quietened down when asked during Wednesday's protest.

Mr Thompson said: 'We want to embarrass QinetiQ and this is a great way of doing it.

'This is the start of weekly protests against the company. We've all come here to make an impact.
'We want them to stop using goats in their experiments and hand them over to us so we can look after them properly.'

In a statement a spokesman for QinetiQ accepted goats were used in tests but said there was no alternative.

18 August 2006


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