Under siege lab misses accounts deadline again

Animal experimentation labs, Huntingdon Life Sciences, is facing fines from Companies House after failing to file its 2003 accounts within the due deadline, as it sought to protect its auditor from protest action.

Link: Three-month delay for Huntingdon accounts

The company could face being struck off if it persists in withholding its filing. Companies House can also lay criminal charges and impose fines of up to £5,000.

A spokesman for Companies House confirmed that HLS was now in default of its reporting requirements and was liable for a fine, which would rise in value over time.

‘Ultimately, we would begin strike off proceedings if the accounts are not filed, but that is still some way down the road,’ he said.

HLS has not filed an annual report in the UK since former auditor Deloitte was forced to sever its ties with the company after animal rights demonstrators embarked on an intense protest campaign in February 2003.

Deloitte offices around the country were the scene of action organised by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, with some criminal damage occurring. The firm’s directors were also targeted at their homes during a two-week period before the firm was forced to relent.

Since its withdrawal, SHAC has promised to act against any practice that takes on the audit for HLS and would also target any firm retrospectively, in order to prevent a so-called ‘hit-and-run’ audit.

Huntingdon had previously been granted two three-month extensions by former trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt, with the original deadline for the accounts falling at the end of October 2004. However, a further extension has not been sought and the DTI said it does not offer extensions retrospectively.

Huntingdon Life Sciences was unable to comment as Accountancy Age went to press.

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