Animal rights ruling for Oxford

November 12, 2004

Oxford University has secured a landmark High Court ruling protecting its staff and contractors from intimidation by animal rights activists, writes Anna Fazackerley.

An injunction granted on Wednesday prohibits seven named animal rights groups and one individual, John Curtin, from coming within 50 yards of the animal research facility that is being built on South Parks Road in Oxford, or within 100 yards of employees' homes.

The restriction also prevents those named from coming close to the premises or homes of Oxford's contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers. This follows the intimidation of building companies working on the project, which halted work on the site in July.

Weekly protests can still take place in the city centre.

John Hood, Oxford's vice-chancellor, said: "This order strikes a fair balance between the legitimate right to protest and the right of individuals to conduct their lawful business without fear of intimidation or violence."

Chris Higgins, director of the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at Imperial College London, said: "Finally we are seeing action taken against a small minority who are trying to prevent essential research which will lead to improved healthcare."

But a spokesperson for the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, which stresses it advocates only peaceful campaigns, warned: "This injunction represents a blow to the democratic right to protest lawfully on a controversial issue."

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