Northampton Today. 17 June 2003

Animal liberation group denies planting 'bomb'

ANIMAL rights activists have denied they were behind the planting of a hoax bomb outside a company in Northampton.

The suspicious parcel, which was left in a box and wrapped up in a black dustbin bag outside Act Tech UK Ltd, on the Round Spinney estate, had a white label on the top saying 'a gift from the Animal Liberation Front'.

The company, which manufactures automotive glass, has been the focus of a number of protests by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) recently.

In May protesters from Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (Shac) gathered outside the firm because its Japanese parent company, Asahi Glass, is a customer of Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Richard Hussey, sales and finance director of the company, said: "We have been affected on a number of occasions by the animal rights groups because of our connections with Asahi Glass." He declined to comment further but said more than half a day's production had been lost because of the incident.

A spokesperson for the ALF, calling himself Richie, told the Chronicle and Echo: "I know there is an ongoing campaign by Shac against Act Tech and the parent company, Asahi Glass, who are customers of Huntingdon Life Sciences. "They say they haven't been customers for years, but if that is true all they have to do is issue a statement saying that and I am sure they will no longer be targeted."

He claimed company directors living in the Northampton area had been targeted by groups in the past.

More than 100 employees from Act Tech and other buildings in Edgemead Close were evacuated and roads sealed off for three hours while experts from the Royal Air Force Bomb Disposal Unit, dressed in white protective uniforms, blew up the package.

Police scenes of crimes officers carried out an extensive search of the building after the package was safely destroyed at around 11am.

It later emerged the package had not contained a bomb or explosives. The site remained sealed off but roads around Edgemead Close were re-opened at 11.30am.