Protesters gathered outside a laboratory in Potters Bar to demonstrate against the “evil” experimentation on animals.

More than 50 campaigners from the Anti Vivisection Coalition (AVC) gathered outside the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), in Blanche Lane, this afternoon.

Danny Flies, the chairman of the organisation, accused the government lab of performing needless and cruel experiments on monkeys.

He said: “At a time when politicians are telling everyone to tighten their belts they go and spend millions on needless experiments on animals.

“This money could be used to pay for hospitals, for schools and for teachers – it shouldn’t be used to subsidies evil experiments on monkeys.”

According to the campaigners the lab is not producing new life-saving drugs but is just test old drugs on animals when more advanced testing methods exist.

Mr Flies argued that people who supported experimenting on animals were still using the same arguments which were made in the 50s and 60s.

He said: “Technology has improved a great deal in the last few decades and we no longer need to harm animals to test our drugs.”

The AVC has asked to meet with representatives from the institute to discuss how the lab can modernise its testing methods.

Luke Steele, who runs the UK branch of the coalition, said he was pleased with the turnout.

He said: “I think for a first demonstration the turnout is very good, especially on a cold day like this.

“We want to work with the lab and have it introduce new methods of testing then release all the monkey into an animal park.”