Oxford have attempted to calm the long running opposition met by animal rights protesters by claiming it is ‘committed to cutting animal research’, and is looking to invest in research into feasible alternatives. This decision comes despite the recent completion of an £18m biomedical research animal house at Oxford University.
In March 2004, the campaign group SPEAC ( Stop Primate Experiments at Cambridge) became SPEAK (“The Voice of Animals”) and moved to Oxford after Cambridge University was forced to cancel the building of a similar facility to that in Oxford, due to spiralling security costs. There, it is alleged, they continued the animal protests previously wreaked upon Cambridge.
The comments calling for a decrease in animal testing at Oxford University were made by Professor Rodney Phillips, chairman of a university ethics committee. He stated that the day the facility was closed down would be ‘wonderful’, in a move that some have seen as an attempt to pacify groups like SPEAK and other animal rights activists, who have tried obstinately to bring the building plans to a halt.
Subdued animal rights activity should be welcomed after persistent opposition to the facility, including acts of criminal damage, harassment and arson.
Such acts have led to serious obstacles, including the original contractors pulling out and builders forced to cover their faces on the job to avoid identification.
Both sides of the argument have refused to back down since building started five years ago. Local MP Dr Evan Harris refuted the claims of extremists, saying:
“You will never win. Every single action of harassment, of intimidation or violence undermines any legitimacy your case ever had.”
Mel Broughton from SPEAK adamantly has stated, however: “We will be there for as long as it takes.”