The UK government has been urged to take emergency action to combat animal rights extremists after Walter Lilly, a subsidiary of the Montpellier Group, pulled out of an £18 million (USD $33.3 million) contract to build a new center for animal research at Oxford University. The decision was widely attributed to intimidation by animal rights extremists, although Montpellier would only say that the decision was reached by mutual consent with Oxford University.

Scientists were in little doubt that the decision has brought to a head the long-standing battle between the research community and the antivivisection campaign, with Oxford taking over from the Cambridge area as the focus of activity. The move by Montpellier comes 6 months after Cambridge University decided to abandon plans to build a primate research center.

Researchers consider the Oxford case to be more serious because it involves a large, broad-based animal laboratory where 98% of...

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