Building understands that Oxford University has found a new contractor to build its controversial £18m animal laboratory.

Work stopped on the scheme last July when contractor Montpellier pulled out of the project after employees were threatened by animal rights protesters. The activists also threatened to send anonymous letters to the neighbours of employees bogusly claiming that the individuals had criminal records for sexual offences.

It is understood that the contractor involved has agreed to undertake the job at an increased price in addition to being promised future work at the university.

The university will not confirm or deny any appointment.