UK anti-terror laws 'cover animal protests'

By Wai Lang Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Animal rights Animal liberation front

Animal rights activists, who engage in acts of violence, could be
prosecuted under new anti-terror legislation proposals outlined by
the Government that aim to crack down on recent attacks on British
Universities with animal research interests.

The UK government has come under mounting pressure to curb the activities of animal rights extremists that has seen a recent upsurge in the number of incidents against individuals, research institutions and businesses with links to animal research centres.

The Terrorism Bill, outlined by Home Secretary Charles Clarke, will make glorifying or indirectly encouraging terrorism an offence, punishable by up to seven years' imprisonment.

Clarke told the Joint Committee on Human Rights: "It's not targeted specifically at that sort of terrorism but I certainly think that animal rights terrorism is something that has to be attacked."

In July of this year, Oxford University was targeted in an arson campaign, which resulted in an estimated £500,000 (€719 000) worth of damage to boats and property. The attack was specifically intended to halt construction of a primate research centre.

In addition, June of this year saw a broker to the drug company Phytopharm quit after a bomb exploded beneath the car of one of the firm's executives.

A group linked to the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the attack saying it had placed the device under the car of the company's finance director Michael Kendall last month.

"Those who argue that committing terrorist acts to promote the cause of 'animal rights' and to justify it by reference to a phrase such as 'violence begets violence' is illegitimate and would be covered by this legislation, as I understand it,"​ Clarke commented.

These latest measures serve to reassure the pharmaceutical companies, who have expressed reservations that the violence on the mainland has caused them to seriously consider whether it is still appropriate to carry out this essential research work in the UK.

While it is difficult to gauge the direct impact of the actions of animal extremists on the industry - particularly as their actions tend to be targeted at individuals in companies, there is no doubt that it has been taking up time in the boardrooms of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and could affect investment decisions in the UK.

Related topics Preclinical Research

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