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Companies urged to stand up to protestors

Companies with clients facing protests from groups like animal rights activists should stand up to their agitators, rather than dump their difficult customers, according to a senior investment community figure.

Link: SHAC on trail of Huntingdon’s next auditor

Influential City bodies, such as the National Association of Pension Funds, the Association of British Insurers and the Corporation of London, are currently in talks with the Home Office to discuss how to deal with problems faced by companies suffering sustained protest action.

Although many such companies suffer these attacks, the move was prompted by recent action from Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) against Huntingdon Life Sciences animal laboratory and its service providers.

Among its victims was Big Four firm Deloitte, which withdrew as Huntingdon’s auditors last year following intense protest from the group. SHAC is currently on the trail of new auditor Hugh Scott, whose details have been deliberately obscured.

But a source close to the NAPF said that any action by the investment community should start with companies standing up to such protests, rather than backing away from the company.

‘We need to explore if there should be a change to professional codes of conduct on this issue,’ said the source. ‘Are there grounds to drop a client…solely due to intimidation?’

The source added that those linked with such companies should not try to hide their identity, as ‘these people will find you if they want to. Instead competitors should band together, put a full page ad in national newspapers saying that we are all in this together’.

Although Deloitte would not comment officially on the matter, figures within the firm said there would be little appetite from employees to face protests on the scale of last year?s in the name of making a stand.

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