UK directors might conceal home addresses to thwart Huntingdon-style violence

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Melanie Johnson, the Consumer and Competition Minister, said she was proposing the measure in order to prevent the kind of abuses and threats made by animal rights protestors against directors of the biotechnology firm, Huntingdon Life Sciences.

The firm's chief executive, Brian Cass, was beaten with baseball bats outside his home in February.

Protestors have also targeted the London offices of financial services and other firms that have had links to Huntingdon, including Bank of New York and the broker, Charles Schwab.

At the moment, the home addresses of all company directors are publicly available. Under a regulation change suggested by Johnson, directors would be allowed to declare only a service address, provided they could show they were at risk. Companies House would still require their home address, but not for public distribution.

Johnson said the availability of home addresses was a key part of making business activity transparent and accountable. But people engaged in legitimate business should not have to live in fear.

Any changes to the regulations would take place under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001.