Animal-rights link to booby-trap mail

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Booby-trapped letters sent to senior politicians at Westminster are the work of animal-rights activists, police believe.

In the past two weeks, letters containing slivers of razor-sharp metal have got through Parliament's elaborate security system to Sir David Steel and Lord Donoughue, the People reports today.

The blades were concealed in Blu-Tack stuck to a folded sheet of blank notepaper, and were so small they escaped detection by sensitive equipment installed to filter out dangerous packages.

Jill Clements, secretary to Sir David, said the letters were designed to "rip your thumb or index finger to pieces". "It was pure luck that I didn't."

The choice of Sir David was initially thought to relate to his campaigning for abortion, but a second terror letter to Lord Donoughue, a former adviser to Labour prime ministers with no links to the pro- or anti-abortion lobby, prompted a rethink.

Lord Donoughue, who supports foxhunting, said: "These people are not animal-rights activists. They are animal terrorists. They don't believe in rights - not for human beings anyway.."

Lord Donoughue is a leading figure in the Leave Country Sports Alone campaign to halt Labour plans to ban foxhunting. Sir David has also spoken against animal-rights fanatics, describing them as "the new fascists".

Superintendent Bob Wood, deputy head of security at Westminster, said: "It doesn't take a genius to work out that it's probably the work of animal- rights activists."