This month the UK’s High Court granted Oxford University a permanent injunction against a number of animal rights gruops and individuals that will limit how those gruops and individuals can protest against an Oxford animal laboratory.
The decision creates a 50-yard zone in which activists and groups named in the decision may not enter, except during once-a-week demonsrations. The injunction also forbids the activists and groups from protesting or loitering within 50 yards of the premises of contractors and within 100 yards of the homes of university faculty, staff, contractors, or the shareholders of the contracts or their families.
The injunction also prohibits those named in it from publishing the personal details of any of those protected individuals.
In issuing the injunction, Justice Grigson said that the injunction did not limit anyone’s ability to express his or her views, but
What it does restrict is to whom and where he expresses those views. A similar consideration applies in respect of his right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association. A right to freedom of peaceful assembly does not entitle a citizen, by means of a mass protest, to stop the lawful activities of others.
BioMed Central quoted Roger Morris of King’s College as commending the ruling saying,
For too long resaerch that will make a real impact upon our traetmetn of such diseases has been disrupted by a few urban terrorists. It is now clear that the govenrment and the courts are standing up for human rights as well as animal rights.
Cherwell Online reported on one activist’s take on the decision,
Robert Cogswell of SPEAK, which is also included in the injunction, said that the University was attempting to “restrict legal protest becuase they don’t want to have its lies highlighted by the SPEAK campaign” and trying to smear his gruop by associating it with extremists.
He also pointed out that those undertaking criminal action were unlikely to be deterred by the additional barrier of a legal injunction.
Groups covered by the injunction include Supporting and Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom, the Animal Liberation Front, and Oxford Animal Rights Group.
Animal activists banned for good. Cherwell Online, November 12, 2004.
Animal rights injunction. BioMedCentral.Com, November 10, 2004.