Legal protection | University of Oxford

Legal protection

The University accepts that some people do not agree with animals being used for research.

Some opponents of animal research believe that animals should not be used in this way no matter what the potential for medical progress.

Others do not accept that some research using animals is still essential for medical progress, and claim that there are other ways of finding out answers to health problems. This is contrary to the overwhelming body of scientific opinion, and the issue is addressed in the 'research using animals: an overview' section of this website (see link on left).

The vast majority of those opposed to research using animals make their views heard within the law. The University is committed to free speech and supports people’s right to protest.

However, a minority of opponents to animal research operate outside of the law and are willing to use threats, intimidation, harassment and violence. The protection of staff, students, funders, alumni and those who work with the University is a priority. To that end, the University has sought and obtained a legal injunction granting protection from harassment. This is explained in full below.

Injunction

The University has an injunction in place to protect staff, students, contractors, and alumni from harassment.

The injunction imposes certain restrictions on individuals campaigning against the building or operation of the research facility in South Parks Road. The restrictions are designed to ensure that protest does not cause harassment, alarm, or distress to people trying to go about their lawful business. The injunction acknowledges and makes provision for the right to protest.

You can read the injunction in full by clicking on the pdf on the top right.

What is an injunction?

An injunction is a court order which protects the rights of the respective parties involved.

What restrictions does the injunction enforce?

1) The injunction bans individuals campaigning against the building or operation of the research facility in South Parks Road from the following:

(a)    assaulting, harassing, molesting, or threatening protected persons. Protected persons are defined as staff, students, contractors who supply any goods or services to the collegiate University, the shareholders of those contractors, alumni, and the families of all those people.
(b)    taking photographs of protected persons or their vehicles.
(c)    picketing or demonstrating within 100 yards of the residence of any protected person or 50 yards of the commercial or business premises of any contractor.
(d)    trying to identify or follow any vehicle entering or leaving the exclusion zone.
(e)    publishing names, addresses, contact details, photos and registration numbers of protected persons.
(f)    using megaphones, klaxons, sirens, drums, whistles and other noise amplification devices in South Parks Road, Mansfield Road or St Cross Road.

2) It excludes individuals campaigning against the building or operation of the research facility in South Parks Road from going inside a defined exclusion zone around the building except for a weekly protest between 1pm and 5pm on Thursdays (maximum 50 people), and other protests as agreed in advance.  

What provision for protest is made by the injunction?

The injunction provides for weekly demonstrations opposite the Biomedical Sciences Building every Thursday, and for monthly demonstrations which can come into the exclusion zone if agreed in advance with the police.

Campaigners can also organise demonstrations in the city at other times with the appropriate authority from the police. 

Do the restrictions outlined in the injunction apply to everyone?

No. They apply to the people and members, participants or supporters of groups named in the injunction, who are (or should be) aware of its terms. 

What happens if an individual breaches the injunction?

If individuals act in breach of the injunction, they can be arrested by the police, since a breach of an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act (the law under which the injunction is granted) is an arrestable offence. The offence could potentially lead to imprisonment.

Alternatively, the University could apply to court for an order that the person or persons who breached the injunction was guilty of contempt of court. If such an order is made a fine or term of imprisonment could be imposed.

Does the University have just one injunction?

Yes, there is one injunction.