‘Misguided’ protesters to descend on ‘animal farm’

Highgate Farm in Normanby by Spital
Highgate Farm in Normanby by Spital

HUNDREDS of protesters are set to descend on a farm that breeds rabbits and ferrets for animal testing.

A massive police operation will see Highgate Lane in Normanby by Spital closed on Saturday as protesters surround Highgate Farm in a bid to force the owner to close down.

Up to 400 “misguided” animal rights activists are expected to join in the protest using sirens and drums to cause maximum disruption. They claim nearly 100 animals from Highgate Farm were used in the testing of artificial food sweetener at massive animal-testing facility, Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) in Cambridgeshire.

But owner Geoff Douglas said the protesters were wasting their time because he said he no longer sells animals to HLS. He said he could not remember when he stopped supplying the company because it was “such a long time ago”.

He admitted selling about 15 to 20 rabbits a week but insists most of these go to companies dedicated to producing medicines and vaccinations for pets. And the rest of his animals go to developing and testing vaccines and treatments for flu.

He said: “This is very important work for the NHS and we are proud to be involved in work which can save thousands of vulnerable people from the ravages of terrible diseases.

“If there ever was a serious epidemic of killer flu it would be our animals that would be used to develop an effective vaccine.

“The protesters are very misguided and very nasty people. They have set fire to my vans, fire bombed my house, burned my poor rabbits alive. I have been blackmailed and burgled and have had to put up with lies and propaganda put on the internet.

“There are people so screwed up with hatred for me even though they don’t even know me and the way we care for animals.”

Mr Douglas said he had turned the site into a “wildlife sanctuary” and treated his rabbits and ferrets with respect and kept them in “beautiful conditions”.

He said: “We planted thousands of trees which would provide food and shelter for the birds and animals and dug two large ponds which provide a safe place for water birds to breed and frogs, toads and newts to spawn.

“We love all animals and I feel for them when the protesters are calling for people to bring noise making equipment such as sirens, drums and loud hailers. I would ask them not to do this as there may be nesting birds only a few feet away from all the racket.”

For public safety reasons Highgate Lane will be closed between 8am and 5pm. There will also be ‘no waiting’ orders in place in the village and provision has been made for protesters to park away from the area and be transported in.

Insp Simon Outen said: “We are extremely grateful for the assistance and co-operation we’ve received from all parties in helping us to plan for the day.

“We have aimed to keep the community well informed of what’s happening and reassure them that we will be on hand to ensure a peaceful event.

“Members of the local community policing team will be on duty and patrolling on Saturday, and anyone with any concerns on the day is encouraged to bring these to their attention.”