A BUSINESSMAN has told of his “living nightmare” after his home and company were targeted by animal rights extremists.

Extremists targeted Bill Denison's Ribble Valley home with graffiti labelling him a murderer, claimed he was a paedophile and set off klaxon horns and fireworks over his house in the Bolton-By-Bowland countryside.

His workplace, F2 Chemicals, near Preston, was also targeted with a hoax bomb.

Mr Denison, 52, said the experience was like "Chinese water torture".

Members of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) which has links to the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), chose Mr Denison as one of their prime targets, a court heard.

Their aim was to force the closure of the Huntingdon Life Sciences Laboratory in Cambridgeshire — which carries out animal testing for medical research.

The Preston-based company where Mr Denison is now managing director only had tenuous links with Huntingdon.

More than five years after the campaign began, four leading members of SHAC were convicted at Winchester Crown Court last month of orchestrating a blackmail campaign.

All had denied the allegations. Three others had previously pleaded guilty.

The intimidation began in 2003 when Mr Denison, and F2 Chemicals, were listed on SHAC's website as Huntingdon "collaborators".

Abusive letters and emails were sent to the company headquarters at Lea Town, near Preston.

F2 Chemicals did not deal directly with Huntingdon but is owned by a Japanese company which had ties to the animal testing laboratory.

Shortly after Mr Denison's business was targeted, around £10,000 of damage was caused to his home and car, prompting the need for 24-hour security and CCTV cameras.

The animal rights extremists then turned their tactics to the Denisons' neighbours, sending out 200 letters claiming he was a paedophile.

Many letters were intercepted by the Post Office and handed to the police, others were passed on to police by concerned recipients.

Mr Denison said: “Thankfully all the locals were extremly understanding and very supportive but it was a very difficult time for us.”

The court heard that packages of unpaid-for and unsolicited items arrived at the family home in an effort to ruin Mr Denison's credit rating.

In an effort to halt the vandalism, Mr Denison's company installed CCTV cameras and arranged round-the-clock security at his home for nine months at a cost of £160,000.

After fireworks were set off over the house and airhorns sounded late at night, stress forced Mrs Denison to quit her job as a children's special needs assistant.

Mr Denison said: "It was like Chinese water torture. You didn't know what was going to happen next."

Then the words "Bill the murderer" were painted in red paint on the road near his home, along with 13 other threatening messages such as "the ALF are coming for you".

Mr Denison said: "It was quite clear that I was to become a number one ALF target. For my wife and I it was becoming a living hell."

“It happened five years ago but we’ll never forget what they did. We are just trying to get on with our lives now.”

Other victims, mainly scientists and industrialists, from various parts of the country, and whose firms had various links to Huntingdon, had similar threats made against them.