A NATIONAL rally for animal rights protesters is being staged in Oxford.

Hundreds of campaigners from across the country are expected to descend on the city tomorrow and gather at Oxpens Meadow next to the ice rink on Oxpens Road.

The World Day for Animals in Laboratories rally took place in Birmingham last year and Oxford has been chosen as this year’s location. From noon, people will gather on the meadow before marching through the city centre to South Parks Road.

There will then be an anti- vivisection demonstration outside the Biomedical Sciences Building before campaigners return to Oxpens.

Steve Magee, from Oxford, a member of the organising committee for the event, said: “This will be a law-abiding peaceful protest in which we will ask Oxford University to abandon vivisection and seek alternative methods of research that do not use animals.

“It will be a peaceful protest but it could also get quite noisy.

“We have had meetings with the city council and the police and they have approved the march. There will be stalls at Oxpens, including those selling vegan food, and the event will finish about 5pm.”

Among the organisations represented at the rally will be Animal Aid.

Dr Adrian Stallwood, scientific consultant to Animal Aid, said: “I have studied the results of animal experiments, in terms of medical progress, in some detail.

“I am convinced that their phase-out would not mean an end to scientific advancement.”

A spokesman for Oxford City Council said: “The organisation submitted an events application to use Oxpens. The council consulted with our normal stakeholders on this, which includes the police. The application has been approved.”

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: “The force is aware of an event taking place in Oxford on Saturday and has liaised with the organisers in regards to their plans.

“The organisers will be providing stewards for the event and we will have a small number of officers in attendance to help manage any possible disruption caused and ensure things pass off peacefully.”

An Oxford University spokes-man said: “‘Oxford University supports the right to peaceful protest.

He added: “Oxford University conducts world-leading medical research which aims to save and improve human lives.

“Research using animals is a small part of this research – the majority is carried out using either in-vitro techniques or the study of human beings.

“Where use of animals is essential, the university is committed to very high standards of animal welfare. Almost all the animals used in Oxford research are mice.”