ALF Sends Threatening Letters to Dozens of British Construction and Decorating Firms

In October, police in Great Britain reported that Animal Liberation Front extremists mailed anonymous letters to dozens of construction and decorating companies warning them of dire consequences if they participated in Oxford University’s planned construction of a new research facility.

The letter warned companies that they would participate in the construction and design of the building “at your own peril.”

Animal Liberation Front spokesman Robin Webb approved of the letters, telling The Telegraph,

If they are supplying Oxford University in any way and through that helping the progress of the proposed facility then they can be considered a target.

Police had a different view. A police spokesman told The Press Association,

It is believed the letters are part of a campaign by animal rights extremists who are trying to prevent work by Oxford University to build new laboratories. Although everyone is entitled to an opinion about this very emotive issue, it is just not acceptable to act in a way which intimidates other people and threatens their livelihood.


Animal rights group threatens builders over new Oxford labs. Rosie Murray-West, Telegraph, October 12, 2005.

Threats posted to Oxford lab contractors. Press Association, October 11, 2005.

Activists March Against Oxford

In late January, about 200 activist showed up to march against Oxford University in an event organized by SPEAK. Oxford is moving ahead with plans to construct its animal research facility, and SPEAK and other activists apparently see this as drawing a line in the sand — if they can stop this from being built, the activists apparently believe they’ll create a cascading effect that will bring down animal research around the world (odd — I thought the perpetually imminent closure of Huntingdon Life Sciences was going to have that effect.

Anyway, here’s a statement SPEAK circulated earlier this year about its focus on Oxford University,


The animal rights movement is on the verge of achieving a truly historic victory against Oxford University. The ramifications for the vivisection industry both in this country and abroad cannot be underestimated: it could even in the long run mean the end of the vivisection industry in this country and ultimately, where the UK vivisection industry leads, the world follows.

This Saturday will see a National Demonstration take place against Oxford University’s plans to build another animal research facility. At SPEAK we appreciate that people may have other things to do on a Saturday, however, it cannot be stressed enough, just how important a good turn out will be. For the last 7 months work has not taken place at South Parks Rd. The University has been scrabbling around to find a company gullible enough to take on the new contract.

Recent newspaper articles have reported the University as stating that the resumption of work is imminent. The tone of their statements has been both bullish and arrogant; their posturing is confrontational. It is vitally important that on Saturday the animal rights movement sends a loud and clear message to both the University and more importantly any potential contractor, that we are not going away and that we intend to fight them every inch of the way.

If we are able to prevent the completion of the new lab, the negative effect it is going to have on the vivisection industry will be immeasurable but one thing is clear – it will be a devastating blow to the vivisection industry and the ripples from the aftermath of such a victory has the potential to be felt the world over.

Last July, work on the new lab ceased, 7 months later, all is still quiet. The animal rights movement has achieved great things but we can achieve more and with a final push we can put an end to Oxford University’s goal of expanding its vivisection capabilities. Victory is within our grasp but its up to you to make it a reality. Everyone who truly cares about the plight of animals’ needs to ask themselves at the beginning of 2005: what am I going to do in order to defeat the plans by Oxford University to build another animal research centre? The animals need all of us to defend them – let’s make sure we don’t let them down. Let’s make 2005 a year to remember, a year that finally sees the demise of vivisection the world over.

Together we can and will win.

Great Britain is the world leader and trendsetter in animal research? Talk about being disconnected from reality.

British Universities Struggle to Preserve Researchers’ Anonymity

Universities are finding it difficult to comply with the new British Freedom of Information Act and also preserve the privacy/anonymity of their researchers.

Universities like Oxford obviously want to prevent researchers from becoming targets of animal rights extremists, but guidelines are still a bit vague as to how much they have to disclose in Freedom of Information Act requests and whether or not they can refuse such requests by certain individuals.

The Times Higher Education Supplement recently reported that,

The Freedom of Information requests that universities are dealing with have been described as “very specific.’ Universities are concerned that the Act does not allow an institution or government department to refuse an application simply because it comes from a person with a criminal record for animal-rights activism.

Which seems like a pretty silly objection — after all, if you prevent someone with a criminal record from having access to such information, it has to be near-trivial for that person to simply enlist a friend who does not have a criminal record to file the request.

Oxford has posted nine summaries of animal research projects on its website that it received Freedom of Information requests about.

ON the one hand, Nancy Rothwell of Manchester University tells the Times that it would be easy to guess who the individual researcher is based on the summary,

I’m pretty sure I could identify some of the license holders because their work is so specialized. I do not see a way of maintaining anonymity yet retaining a summary that has value.

On the other hand the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection complains that the summaries do not contain enough details. Adolfo Sansolini, chief executive of BUAV, told The Times,

This is a smokescreen for further secrecy by the Government.

Look, at some point the research is going to be made public if the results are ever published. Its silly to sit back and try to keep animal rights activists from learning the names of individuals working on animal research projects. The problem is not that this sort of information might be public, but rather that the government has done such a poor job protecting researchers and containing animal rights extremism.


UK scientists seek anonymity. Anna Fazackerley, The Times Higher Education Supplement, January 28, 2005.

Oxford University Pledges to Move Forward on Animal Research Laboratory

Despite the intense focus its received from animal rights activists who managed to stop work on a Pound 18 million animal research facility this summer, Oxford University has vowed that it will resume work on the laboratory sometime this year.

The contractor Oxford had hired to build the laboratory, Montpellier, pulled out after intense harassment of its employees; harassment that led to the resignation of one of the company’s directors.

Oxford seems to think that a High Court injunction against activists will be enough to prevent a recurrence of what happened with Montpellier, but at the same time was short on specifics. According to a university spokeswoman quoted by the Press Association,

We’re not saying anything about whether we have got a new contractor other than to say that we hope to resume work early in the new year and are hoping to get it finished by the end of 2005.

Lets hope Oxford isn’t deluding itself into thinking that the injunction itself is simply going to make animal rights extremists go away and not harass employees of whatever contracting company it ultimately hires for the animal laboratory. Oxford is in for a long, difficult process if it goes forward with the building — and it should go forward, but with eyes wide open.


University Pledge over Animal Research Lab. Katherine Haddon, Press Association, January 5, 2005.

New Oxford Chancellor Slams Animal Rights Activists

Chris Patten, former EU Commissioner and new chancellor of Oxford University, used his first speech as Oxford chancellor to blast animal rights “thugs” in the UK who are threatening medical research.

In his speech, Patten said,

It would, of course, be devastating news for many who suffer from disease if this research was to be halted in its tracks. But there is more at risk than the future of biomedical research in one university, or even in the whole country.

To use violence against research at a university — against academic staff and all those in any way associated with what they do — is a serious blow against the basic liberties of a plural society. If we surrender over animal research, what comes next?

Will there be attempts to intimidate us not to employ those who belong to a particular country or faith or ethnic group? Will research into some parts of our history be censored as it has been and still is in some countries?

Will other sorts of scientific inquiry be choked off because of the objections of this or that group which is prepared to threaten or use violence? Pushing back the boundaries of knowledge is one of the hallmarks of a free and civilized society.

These are all issues that are on the frontier between an Enlightenment world of liberty and reason, and darkness.

Universities, when able to pursue knowledge simply out of curiosity, are a bastion of a free society, as newspapers are. If you start to limit through the use of violent means what universities do, you are undermining the values of freedom.

Wow — the role of Chancellor in the Oxford system is largely a symbolic one, but it is still good to see someone associated with the university so eloquently stating what is at stake in the fight against animal rights extremism.


New Chancellor Patten Attacks Animal Rights Extremists. Press Association, November 19, 2004.

Liberty threatened by animal rights thugs, says Patten. Mark Henderson, The Times (London), November 19, 2004.

Animal rights extremists slammed. BBC, November 19, 2004.

Animal Aid Hands Out "Mad Scientist" Awards

Five Animal Aid activists dressed up as “mad scientists” and a giant caged monkey and handed out their annual “Mad Science Awards” to staff at Cambridge University’s Department of Experimental Psychology.

The activists didn’t actually get to see any of the researchers they were targeting, but rather handed certificates to security guards.

Animal Aid activist, Andre Menache told Cambridge News,

It went very well. We achieved our aim and handed the certificates to the security people to give to 16 researchers who have performed really grotesque scientific research.

Two of them got the main awards for mutilating the brains of monkeys. They say this research is to improve treatment of people with strokes but not one of the treatments has had any bearing on people.

The research that Menache is referring to is aimed at better understanding human diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.


Protesters target monkey lab group. Cambridge News, November 18, 2004.