Oxford University Granted New Injunction Against Animal Rights Protesters
The University of Oxford has been granted a new injunction by the High Court to protect staff, current and former students, and all contractors working for the collegiate University from intimidation, harassment, and potential violence from animal rights activists.
The order, which was made by Mr Justice Holland on Friday 26 May 2006 and replaces earlier rulings obtained by the University, has extended the groups of people given legal protection. The latest judgement has added all contractors who supply any goods or services to the collegiate University as a new category of ‘protected persons’. Previously staff, students, alumni and contractors working on the biomedical research building were covered.
The 'exclusion zone' - the area where protesters are prohibited from entering except to attend Thursday or other permitted demonstrations – has also been increased by the High Court. The area has now been extended further along South Parks Road to St Cross Road and further down Mansfield Road. The court has also recognised the disruption and distress caused by protesters using megaphones, klaxons, sirens, drums, whistles and other noise amplification devices within the exclusion zone. Restrictions have now been placed on the use of such devices by animal rights protesters. Mr Justice Holland’s ruling banned all noise amplification devices within the exclusion zone, along Mansfield Road and along St Cross Road. The order continues to provide those opposed to the building of the new biomedical research facility with the opportunity to hold weekly demonstrations close to the site every Thursday. Protesters will still be able to organise larger, national demonstrations in the city at other times with the appropriate authority from the police.
Dr Julie Maxton, Registrar of the University of Oxford, said: ‘Today’s judgement represents a significant advance for the cause of legitimate and essential scientific research at Oxford University. We all have the right to work and study in a safe and peaceful environment, free from threat, intimidation and disruption. That right is what the court has acknowledged today.
‘This ruling extends legal protection from such unlawful behaviour to a wider range of people. It also offers a welcome measure of relief to many members of the University who have been subjected to unjustifiable harassment and distress.
‘We acknowledge that some individuals and groups are opposed to the building of the University’s new biomedical facility and to the potentially life-saving research to be carried out there. As a University deeply committed to freedom of speech, we fully recognise the right of such individuals and groups to express their views within the framework of the law. The judgement protects that right, while making it clear that it cannot be used as a cloak for unlawful activity and behaviour.
‘We will wish to keep under review the operation of the new ruling and its impact on those it is intended to protect and those it is intended to restrain.’
The injunction also states that protesters should not picket or demonstrate within 100 yards of the residence of any protected person, anywhere in the country. It also makes it an offence for an animal rights protester to try to identify any vehicle entering or leaving the exclusion zone.
Mr Justice Holland also indicated that the injunction should be brought back to the High Court periodically for review, or earlier in light of any new evidence.
Notes to Editors:
- The University was granted a separate injunction on April 11 2006, which runs parallel to this new order. This ruling prohibits campaigners from congregating or picketing within 100 yards of the Examination Schools on the High Street or of Ewert House in Summertown, Oxford, between 18 April and 20 July, and 10 September and 31 October 2006.
- The University was first granted an injunction by Mr Justice Grigson in November 2004. The University returned to the High Court in March this year following increased threats, criminal damage and disruptive activity since work resumed on the biomedical research facility in November 2005.
- Amongst the protesters covered by the injunction are: John Curtin; Amanda Richards; Max Gastone; Robin Webb; Greg Avery; Natasha Avery; SPEAK Campaigns; SHAC; Oxford Animal Rights Group; People Against Cruelty to Animals - West Midlands; West Midlands Animal Action; Animal Liberation Front; Save Newchurch Guinea Pigs Campaign. Mel Broughton and Robert Cogswell have entered in to separate undertakings with the University under the same terms as the injunction.
- The order includes provisions for a maximum of 50 people to protest once a week within the exclusion zone on Thursdays between 1pm and 5pm. However, protesters will not be able to use any noise amplification devices. Campaigners will retain the right to apply to Thames Valley Police to hold additional protests or demonstrations for larger numbers, providing such an application complies with Public Order legislation.
- The Defendants are prohibited from knowingly picketing or demonstrating within 100 yards of the residences of those individuals protected by this Order.
- The Order made by Mr Justice Holland comes into effect