Inquiry to assess cost of animal rights 'terrorism'

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The Independent Online

The Royal Society, the national academy of science, has announced new research into how much animal rights "terrorism" is costing universities.

The Royal Society, the national academy of science, has announced new research into how much animal rights "terrorism" is costing universities.

The body has written to 120 research units around Britain to try to assess the financial implications of protecting themselves against extremists.

While private pharmaceutical bodies have long complained of the cost of protecting themselves against militants, nobody has investigated its effect on public institutions.

The Royal Society said large sums were being spent to protect academic animal research facilities, but the only evidence it has is anecdotal.

Professor Eric Keverne, chairman of the Royal Society's animals in research committee, has written to universities requesting information on the costs of fitting extra alarm systems, building reinforcements or employing security staff. The Royal Society is urging government action to support researchers doing experiments to develop vaccines and potential cures for cancers and brain disorders. Professor Keverne said that the organisation was not only concerned with the financial effects but that some scientists may be dissuaded from working in this area.

Wendy Higgins, campaigns director of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, said: "By yet again raising the issue of animal rights extremism, [the Royal Society] clearly aims to discredit animal rights campaigners in general and thereby discredit opposition to vivisection. There are already sufficient laws in place to deal with any isolated illegal activity and one has to question the validity and independence of any report produced by an openly pro-vivisection Royal Society."

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