A former Scotland Yard special branch detective has warned the construction industry to brace itself for a campaign of intimidation from violent animal rights activists
The former detective, who has asked not be named, said that underground groups such as the Animal Liberation Front are planning to target contractors working on laboratories used for vivisection.

He said: "Animal rights groups are the biggest threat to construction. Laboratories projects will almost certainly come under threat."

The former detective, who has set up a private investigation agency after a 28-year career in the Metropolitan Police, described a typical campaign.

He said: "First you [construction bosses] will get letters saying 'don't do this', 'don't build that'. Then you get a coffin sent to your house, and there are demonstrations outside.

All this is a manageable problem, but it comes as a bit of a shock."

Animal rights activists have been known to subject their victims' families to parcel bombs and threats to kidnap children. The wife of one victim was driven to attempt suicide.

First you get letters saying ‘don’t do this’. Then you get a coffin sent to your house

Security consultant

The former detective said that the strategy of targeting associated companies proved effective against Huntingdon Life Sciences, a pharmaceutical firm that was driven to the verge of bankruptcy.

The former detective has advised on security at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, under construction near Cambridge, where protective measures include a magnetic field that sets off an alarm when broken by intruders.

The news comes as the industry braces itself for campaigns against the building of airports, roads and houses. Campaigners are occupying a site on Twyford Down, near Winchester, earmarked for a park-and-ride scheme.