8:55am Monday 29th May 2006
By Tim Hughes
Cult singer-songwriter Morrissey branded Oxford "the shame of England" in an attack on Oxford University's controversial animal res- earch lab.
The pop star spoke out against the laboratory, being constructed in South Parks Road, during a show at the New Theatre.
The musician, a strict vegan and animal rights advocate, also issued a warning to anyone planning to work at the laboratory. "Make no mistake," he told the audience at the packed theatre, "for anyone working in the labs, we are going to get you."
The former frontman of 80s band The Smiths was in Oxford as part of a national tour to promote his critically-acclaimed new album Ringleader of The Tormentors.
When a member of the audience praised the Manchester-born artist for defending animals, he responded by telling the crowd, "if you agree with vivisection, go and be vivisected upon, yourself."
But he put down one vocal fan who called for vivisectors to be killed. "Oh, I see," he replied, "it's that simple is it?"
Steven Morrissey has been a public supporter of animal rights and vegetarianism since the release of The Smith's 1985 album Meat is Murder.
Earlier this year, the artist who now lives in Rome, was criticised for comments attributed to him on fan website True To You, in which he appeared to back what he called "animal rights militia," saying violence was the only language fur farmers and laboratory scientists understood.
This prompted Tory home affairs spokesman David Davis to call for a police investigation.
Referring to the media's reporting of his outspoken views, he told the Oxford audience: "Because I have no identity I rely on the press to tell me!"
Morrissey also sparked controversy in June 2004 when he broke the news of Ronald Reagan's death to fans at a gig in Manchester, saying he wished it had been President George W Bush who had died.
Robert Cogswell, Speak spokesman, described Morrissey as a very vocal supporter of their campaign and said the group had been invited to have a stall at the Oxford gig.
He said: "We agree with everything he said."
But Mr Cogswell made clear that when Morrissey said "we will get you" he did not mean that people would be hunted down, but that they would be exposed for what they do.
He added: "What they indulge in is actually animal abuse."
A representative for Morrissey, Stephen Ewashkiw, said that there would be no further comment from the singer about the comments made in Oxford.
No one from Oxford University was available for comment.
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