May 26, 2006

UK’s Oxford University wins animal rights injunction

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Oxford University won a legal
appeal on Friday to increase restrictions placed on animal
rights activists to halt violent protests against a new
research laboratory it is building.

The university went to the High Court last week to extend
an exclusion zone round the 20-million-pound ($37 million)
biomedical center to keep demonstrators away.

Some animal rights extremists, opposed to vivisection, have
threatened violence against anyone involved with the

On Friday, a judge at the High Court in London increased
the exclusion zone and handed down new rulings on the amount of
noise protesters can make.

Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research
Council, said the legal move had been designed to curb a
"pattern of weekly disruption and loud noise by relatively
large groups of people."

"What the university is seeking to stop here is the growth
of a mood of violence and aggressive protest against the
university and everyone associated with the university," he
told BBC radio before the ruling.

Construction of the laboratory was suspended in July 2004
for 16 months when the building contractor pulled out in the
face of a persistent campaign by animal rights group SPEAK.

Building work resumed late last year after the university
obtained a limited injunction on protests near the laboratory.
Demonstrations against the center have continued elsewhere in
the city of Oxford.

SPEAK had said the university was seeking too broad an
injunction against demonstrators.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair this month spoke out in
favor of vivisection.