Court ruling raises level of protection for all university contractors rather than just those working on research lab

Oxford University is offering security assistance for all its contractors rather than just those working on the animal research laboratory.

The move follows a High Court decision to grant the university an extension to an injunction limiting protests. The ruling, made last Friday, offers legal protection to all contractors and suppliers to Oxford University, irrespective of whether they are involved with the laboratory.

The decision to increase the legal and practical protection for contractors comes after the campaign to stop the £20m research facility had become increasingly random and intimidating.

The High Court was told that police had intercepted vehicles following workers home, and a number of contractors said they feared maintaining their links with the university.

It is understood that two companies have left the project because of the activities of the animal rights campaigners.

I don’t know whether this ruling will prevent attacks

Brian Sopp, Oxford Architects

Following the injunction, which makes all contractors that supply goods or services to the university "protected persons", an Oxford University spokesperson said: "If any companies need any further advice or help, we can put them in touch with our own security professionals."

The extended injunction widens the "exclusion zone" around the site and makes it an offence for protesters to attempt to identify vehicles entering or leaving the site.

However, some contractors remain sceptical about whether the extra measures will be sufficient to stop attacks. Brian Sopp is a partner at Oxford Architects, which suffered thousands of pounds of damage after an attack by extremists after it carried out work at the university unconnected with the lab.

Sopp said: "I don't think it will make that much difference. It may cut down random targeting of smaller businesses but I don't know whether it will prevent attacks."