Backlash in Britain over animal rights activists’ tactics

31-05-2006 | |

Authorities are cracking down severely on animal rights activists running on-going campaigns against Huntingdon Life Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Oxford University and other companies accused of animal exploitation.

Extreme activists have been labelled ‘thugs and terrorists’, while one security analyst was widely reported as calling the UK “the Afghanistan of animal rights extremism”. Prime Minister Tony Blair has also focused recently on law and order issues, declaring that it is time to act against animal rights protesters. Oxford sought and received injunctions limiting demonstrations at its new research lab. GlaxoSmithKline received a court injunction protecting the identities of its shareholders. Almost a dozen activists have recently been arrested for unknown reasons while others have been given lengthy jail terms.

London’s High Court granted unprecedented injunctions limiting the freedom of Oxford University protesters. The injunctions are intended to protect Oxford’s still-under-construction biomedical animal research laboratory from anti-vivisection demonstrations. Activists will be permitted to protest only during certain specified times and cannot use bullhorns. Activists will not be allowed to identify former and current students, staff, and contractors from the research centre and no protest activity can take place within a hundred yards of the residences of those who work with the lab. Protests are not allowed within 100 yards of colleges or universities themselves, but Oxford failed in attempting to gain a four square mile anti-protest exclusion zone. Activists from the UK group SPEAK said the injunctions would make little difference to the group’s campaigning activities.

After activists mailed letters to GlaxoSmithKline shareholders that threatened to reveal their names if they did not sell their shares, Europe’s biggest drug maker secured a rare High Court injunction against an unknown group of animal rights activists, preventing them from publicising names of its shareholders. It was the first time such an injunction had been granted to a company in Britain.

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