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When do the activities of a pressure group become unacceptable

This Activity will provide you with a case study of a company that has been badly affected by protests from pressure groups. Your task is to present an argument that considers the extent to which a pressure group should be allowed to go to in order to make its point and influence policy and business behaviour.

In some respects the issue might sound easy – they should not, for example, go as far as breaking the law – but are some issues so important that it is necessary to do this to get the establishment to see common sense?

The Case Study: Huntingdon Life Sciences

Huntingdon Life Sciences is a company based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. It does research for companies in the pharmaceutical, biochemical and agricultural industries. This research involves the use of animals for experiments. Huntingdon Life Sciences has been subject to a concerted campaign by pressure groups that object to its work and its treatment of animals.

Pressure groups opposed to the work of Huntingdon have been taking ever more extreme measures to make their point, prompting the government to pass new legislation.

One example that prompted this legislation was the case of Gladys Hammond, the mother-in-law of a guinea pig breeder on a farm in Staffordshire, whose grave was desecrated and her body removed allegedly by animal rights activists complaining about the work of the farm.

Should Huntingdon be allowed to carry out its legitimate business? Are all the pressure groups involved going too far or are the actions of some damaging the work of others in seeking to limit Huntingdon’s activities? Is legislation the way forward? Have the protests so far been successful in changing Huntingdon’s and others’ behaviour? Is the work of Huntingdon and others like it so important that this type of research transcends animal rights?

These might be some of the issues you have to consider in constructing your argument. Remember, it is important to focus attention on the business aspects of the issue and not the political or moral issues, although these might have some impact on your argument.


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