Mace is seeking legal advice after becoming a target for activists protesting against the construction of an animal research laboratory.

Speak, an animal rights group, named Mace on its website as a “key company” involved in the construction of a £20m laboratory for Oxford University.

Steve Pycroft, Mace’s chief executive, sent an email to reassure Mace’s UK staff on Tuesday.

In it, Pycroft insisted that Mace was not working on the laboratory, and told staff that he and the Mace board were in discussions with the company’s lawyers over legal action.

Pycroft told Building: “Mace is working in Oxford but not on the laboratory. We were involved but pulled out in 2004. However, we’re happy to be doing two other projects for Oxford University.”

Robert Cogswell, a spokesperson for Speak, said the organisation had not acted unlawfully and reiterated his belief that Mace was involved in the Oxford laboratory project.

Cogswell said Speak intended to use Mace’s involvement with the Olympics as a way to apply pressure to the firm. Mace is working on the Games as part of Laing O’Rourke’s delivery partner team.

Mace is working in Oxford university but not on the laboratory

Steve Pycroft, Mace

The group said Mace’s alleged involvement in the laboratory meant that the 2012 Olympic site was now a target for action.

Cogswell said: “I don’t want to give anything away on what our tactics might be, but the world’s media will be at the Olympic Games and it affords us a unique opportunity to get our message out.”

It is understood that Mace has not tightened security for its staff because it did not want to lend credibility to Speak’s campaign. However, the board was due to discuss the issue this week.

Oxford University has already taken out an injunction against Speak and other animal rights protesters. This bans them from naming suppliers or contractors that it believes to have worked with on the laboratory or any other project.

Speak was forced to take its references to Mace off its website on Tuesday.

Oxford University and Speak were expected to appear at the High Court on Thursday after an alleged breach of the injunction.