Construction workers receive threats…

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Builders and decorators involved in the construction of the controversial animal testing laboratory on South Parks Road were sent anonymous letters over the weekend threatening to “target” them if they continued to be involved in the project.Over twenty cases of such letters have been reported to the police, who are currently investigating their origin. A statement issued by Thames Valley Police said, “It is believed the letters are part of a campaign by animal rights extremists who are trying to prevent work by Oxford University to build new laboratories in South Parks Road.”A police spokesperson confirmed that the letters had been received by companies who had previously been involved in the construction work. He said that “the letters warn that they will be ‘targeted’ but do not make detailed threats.”The police spokesperson added “although everyone is entitled to an opinion about this very emotive issue, it is just not acceptable to act in a way which intimidates other people and threatens their livelihood.”In an article published by The Daily Telegraph, an anonymous victim of one ‘poison pen’ letter said that he received a threat that work by his company for the university’s project would continue “at your peril.”Arrangements are being made across the University to heighten security in the wake of the arson attack on the Longbridges boathouse, owned by Hertford College, and the attempted attack on Corpus Christi Sports Pavilion.Hertford College Bursar confirmed that they “have made additional provision for security” although they declined to detail arrangements for risk of prejudicing their effectiveness.A spokesperson for the University said “the University and colleges take the safety of our students, staff and all those who work with us, and the security of our properties, extremely seriously.” “We continue to work closely with Thames Valley Police on security matters, but it would not be appropriate to discuss arrangements in greater detail” he added.Both Corpus Christi and the University Security Services declined to comment.One builder, who did not wish to be named, told the The Daily Telegraph, “To be honest, I thought it was a bit of a joke at first. We’re quite a small contractor and we only employ eight people. But we do some work for a few Oxford dons and we have done a bit of maintenance on the colleges.”In the same article Robin Webb, spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front, said, “If they are supplying Oxford University in any way and through that helping the progress of the proposed facility then they can be considered a target.” Construction was halted at the Oxford site on South Parks Road in north Oxford after the building contractor, Montpellier, withdrew from the project following the targeting of its shareholders by animal rights activists.Nursery group Leapfrog also received threats after they offered child care vouchers to animal testing group, Huntingdon Life Sciences, based near Cambridge. Leapfrog have since discontinued the scheme.ARCHIVE: 1st week MT 2005

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