Animal rights activist breaks into medical centre

An animal rights activist was arrested at the University of Warwick on Tuesday 3 April on suspicion of illegally entering the University’s medical centre.

The male suspect, aged 16, disguised himself in a stolen lab coat and spent several hours examining animal research facilities at the Gibbet Hill site before being asked for identification by a technician, who then chased and restrained the intruder before handing him over to University Security Staff.

When police arrived on the scene the boy was arrested on suspicion of burglary, questioned and released on bail – on the condition that he stays away from the University campus and does not contact any animal research organisations.

Peter Dunn, head of communications at Warwick, told the _Boar_: “an individual who was allegedly committing an act of burglary was detained at our Gibbet Hill site and was handed over to the police who are investigating.”

He added: “We cannot comment beyond that until those investigations, and any subsequent legal proceedings, are complete.”

Dunn declined to comment on the suspect’s claim that he was able to observe evidence of medical testing on rats and mice, and would not confirm whether the University will be reviewing its security procedures in the wake of the incident.

The University’s Medical School was listed by rights organisation Animal Liberation Investigation Unit (ALIU) as one of a number of university laboratories known to test on animals. In 2010 the ALIU claimed that Warwick was involved in both testing on mice, and supplying the University of Southampton with mice. Activists believe that the University also tests on frogs.

Warwick’s Animal Ethics Society is currently awaiting the results of a Freedom of Information Request on the animals involved, how many are used as test models every year and what research has been conducted so far.

In 1998 animal rights activists issued a death threat to Professor Colin Blakemore, an outspoken advocate of medical testing on animals, who has held a post as an Honorary Professor at Warwick since 2010. It is not clear whether the break-in was in any way linked to his research.

Robin Webb, a prominent animal rights activist who in 1998 published the threat on Professor Blakemore’s life made by another animal rights group, told the _Boar_ that he was not in any way involved in the break-in. Animal rights activists, he said, tend to act “autonomously” rather than in conjunction with any organisation, but added that “it is understandable that people are forced to go outside of the law… There is no reason to test or experiment on other or lesser species.”

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