A prominent animal rights campaigner is in custody accused of waging an arson and blackmail campaign against Oxford University.

Mel Broughton, 47, of protest group Speak, is the first person to be charged with attacks on the university over its controversial animal testing laboratory. He is accused of being behind petrol bombs found at Templeton College in Kennington in February and a blaze at a Queens College sports pavilion in November last year.

Broughton appeared briefly at Banbury Magistrates' Court yesterday and was remanded in custody. Broughton, of Semilong Road in Northampton, is charged with conspiracy to blackmail, two counts of possessing an explosive substance and two counts of having an article with intent to damage.

District Judge Brian Loosely refused a bail application by Broughton and remanded him custody to appear at Oxford Crown Court on Friday.