NORFOLK, Va. June 18 -- The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been hit with a lawsuit over its undercover video showing beagles held in a New Jersey research lab. PETA says the Great Britain-based Huntingdon Life Sciences company is suing the group for getting an investigator hired at the lab under false pretenses in order to film inside the East Millstone facilty.
The investigator shot footage of 36 beagles that were scheduled to have their legs broken in a test of a new fracture-healing drug for Japanese pharmaceutical firm Yamanouchi USA. The release of the footage led to a call by actress Kim Basinger to spare the cuddly dogs from the painful experiments. Yamanouchi's U.S. president, Shingo Ogawa, postponed the tests, saying the White Plains. N.Y-based company would look into the test methods. PETA President Ingrid Newkirk says the suit is an attempt to stifle legitimate social debate. She compares it to the recent victorious suit by the supermarket chain Food Lion against ABC television. A jury in that case found ABC liable for sneaking hidden cameras into a store to film old meat being re-wrapped. Newkirk says two Huntingdon employees are facing charges of mistreating animals in England, where a television crew filmed them allegedly punching beagles in the face. They have a June 26 court date. Huntingdon could not be reached for comment. ---
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