These are the first glimpses inside the University of Oxford’s controversial £20m animal research facility, which opened in secret a week ago.
The university said on Tuesday that it had opened the building a few days earlier, after a delay of two years caused by what it labelled “an unlawful campaign of intimidation” by animal rights activists.
They waged a five-year campaign to try to prevent the construction and opening of the Biomedical Sci-ences Building, in South Parks Road.
Businesses and contractors working for the institution were targets for vandalism.
A temporary court injunction has placed an exclusion zone around the building since November 2004, banning protests within 100 yards of the site, and banning campaigners from ‘assaulting, harassing, molesting or threatening’ university employees, students or contractors, taking photos of them or publishing their names and addresses.
Campaigners are only allowed to protest opposite the laboratory once a week, on Thursdays between 1pm and 5pm.
The university will ask the High Court to make the injunction permanent some time next year.
However, animal rights group Speak, which stopped the construction of a similar laboratory in Cambridge in 2002, has vowed to step up its lawful protests against the laboratory.
Speak spokesman Emma Speed said yesterday: “I’m outraged this has finally happened, because it’s going to see more animals abused and killed in horrific experiments.
“We’re more determined than ever to see these awful experiments consigned to the dustbin of history.
“We’ll be entering a new phase of the campaign. We have a new ‘Boycott Oxford University’ campaign.
“We’ll be encouraging tourists from this country and abroad to boycott Oxford University products, merchandise and not to go into their buildings.
”If it hadn’t have been for the Government stepping in and shoring it up, then this building would never have been built.”
Animal Liberation Front spokesman Robin Webb said yesterday he was not able to comment on the Oxford University ‘animal house’ for “legal reasons”.
Thames Valley Police said they would not be on a heightened state of alert, despite the building’s opening.
Assistant Chief Constable Brian Langston said: “The announcement that the project has progressed from building site to operational facility will not result in any significant changes to the way we police protests or investigate related crimes.
“The existing team will continue to provide a proportionate response by monitoring intelligence, facilitating lawful protest and seeking the successful prosecution of those responsible for criminal acts.”
Oxford University’s head of medical sciences, Professor Alastair Buchan said: “Animals are only used in our research where no other technique is available.
“Some animal use is still essential for medical progress. The new building will help us deliver on our commitment to animal care while pursuing life-saving medical advances.”