University of Oxford gains temporary injunction to stop noisy demonstrations near biomed building.

The University of Oxford has hit back at animal extremists by gaining a temporary injunction from the High Court banning the use of megaphones, sirens and whistles in the vicinity of its biomedical research building.

After increased threats, criminal damage and disruptive activity since work resumed on the biomedical research facility in November 2005, the university has obtained a ruling that also restricts the use of any kind of camera within the existing exclusion area, and prohibits the obstruction of anyone trying to serve the injunction on protesters.

The University will try to extend the current High Court Order when the full application is heard on 3 April, "in order to protect University staff and students and the residents and businesses in the City of Oxford from further intimidation and harassment, including the use of harassment by noise, abuse and threats."

The University said it had also amended its proceedings to seek legal protection for all funding bodies, organisations and companies which have some links to Oxford. "The purpose of these injunctions is to protect those associated with the University from the campaign of intimidation and harassment which has been directed against them with the aim of preventing them carrying out their lawful activities", it said.

Mr David Holmes, University Registrar, said: "Returning to the High Court is not a step we have taken lightly, but it is a necessary one given that extremist elements have now identified anyone with a connection to Oxford as a legitimate target for direct action. This means that even charitable bodies and companies who provide goods and services are being threatened in this cynical and indiscriminate campaign."

Being subjected to such intimidation for hours on end is deeply unpleasant and stressful, and is affecting the research and study of our staff and students.

David Holmes, Oxford University registrar

"In addition, the working lives of many people in this University are being disrupted by the intimidating levels of loud, abusive and threatening behaviour by protesters which is why we sought the immediate restriction of excessive noise. Being subjected to such intimidation for hours on end is deeply unpleasant and stressful, and is affecting the research and study of our staff and students."

"We do not wish to prevent legitimate protest or the freedom to express opinion. What we will be asking the Court to consider is legal protection proportionate to the wide range of threats being made against the University staff and students and those associated with it."

Holmes said that Oxford University remained committed to the project and to the role of animal research in the development of treatments and cures for life-threatening illnesses and disease. He said that Oxford's priority was to complete the construction in a timely and efficient manner and to ensure that University staff, students and associates received the protection.

A copy of the interim injunction can be found online by clicking below. It also contains background information about the biomedical research building.