Oxford University has failed for now in its attempt to ban animal rights campaigners from demonstrating in Oxford, but has succeeded in preventing protests outside buildings where exams are being held.

Mr Justice Holland said he wanted to visit the site of the controversial £20m biomedical laboratory in South Parks Road before reaching a decision on whether or not to extend an exclusion zone for animal rights protesters.

At a hearing at London's High Court, yesterday, the judge changed the terms of a temporary injunction order passed last month.

That order banned animal rights protesters from using klaxons, whistles, sirens, megaphones and other noise amplification equipment during demonstrations opposite the site.

It also stopped protesters from using cameras and video recording equipment between 1pm and 5pm on Thursday afternoons in the designated 50m exclusion zone.

Mr Justice Holland granted demonstrators permission to use one megaphone for one hour during their weekly protests. The judge said he was unfamiliar with the area and planned to visit Oxford on Thursday, May 4. He added: "I am wholly unwilling to get involved in these issues without being advised as to the views of the relevant senior officer of Thames Valley Police.

"It would be irresponsible of me to get involved without understanding what the position of the police is."

After viewing a DVD of demonstrators, he went on to make an order preventing any protest in the vicinity of the two venues where examinations will shortly be taking place.

A spokesman for Oxford University said: "We are pleased that the court has recognised that the examination period is a stressful enough time for students without the additional concerns of noise, disturbance and abuse from campaigners. It's wrong that any member of the university, or those associated with it, should be subjected to intimidation and disruption."

Robert Cogswell, of the non-violent animal rights group Speak, said: "We have got the injunction we wanted. We have got another month to prepare our defence. We never wanted to disrupt students."

Fellow Speak campaigner Mel Broughton added: "I am very pleased. I think the judge recognised what the university was seeking went well beyond what was needed."

The court will meet again on Thursday, May 18, to make a final ruling.

Four animal rights activists were facing lengthy jail sentences today after they admitted taking part in a six-year campaign against a farm breeding guinea pigs in Newchurch, Staffordshire, which culminated in the theft of a pensioner's body from her grave.

They will be sentenced next month.