The pharmaceutical company needed protection following the conviction of a SHAC activist for blackmail last month, one of its lawyers, Tim Lawson-Cruttenden, told the court. Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis “may be at risk for any backlash that occurs after the sentence,” he said.
The order bars harassment or intimidation of Novartis employees, including abusive or threatening posts on websites or social media. The order also restricts demonstrations to six people or fewer, in designated protest zones, with no amplified sounds, and forbids costumes, face-coverings or “blood-splattered costumes.” Anyone breaching the injunction can be arrested.
GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK), Invesco Ltd. (IVZ:US) and Eli Lilly (LLY:US) are among at least 18 companies that have won injunctions from British courts against SHAC, which campaigns against scientific experimentation on animals by Huntingdon Life Sciences Ltd. SHAC “considers” that Novartis has a commercial relationship with HLS, according to the drugmaker’s court papers.
“A persons-unknown injunction, while lawful, raises concerns because it’s so widely cast,” said Paul Ridge, a lawyer who advises on human-rights issues and isn’t involved in the Novartis case. “The difficulty for the court is you only hear one side of the story” because protesters aren’t always represented.
Several SHAC members have been imprisoned and Novartis, in court documents from today’s hearing, said the organization was “quasi-terrorist in nature.”