Animal-Rights Terrorism and the Demise of Political Debate

Winning over the many may be difficult but remains essential for defeating the few.

This summer, the United Kingdom Home Office launched a crackdown on animal-rights protestors who intimidate or harass people associated directly, or indirectly, with experiments on animals. The move followed action against the construction of an £18 million biomedical research
facility at South Parks Road in Oxford.

This had led the main contractor, Walter Lily & Co Ltd, like the concrete suppliers RMC before them, to pull out of the project to replace and update the university’s animal-testing facilities.

Both companies are subsidiaries of Montpellier plc, whose executive cars had been damaged with paint. The parent company’s investors had also received spoof letters purporting to come from the senior management team, and advising them to withdraw their interests in the company or risk being identified on a website run by activists. Why anyone would think that a company would threaten its own shareholders is not evident, but this led to a 20 per cent drop in the share price as some investors bailed out.

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First published in World Defence Systems Vol.7, No.2, Autumn 2004, pp.202-203