The Journal of History     Summer 2006    TABLE OF CONTENTS

The truth is out there -- A lesson from History

Oxford University's vivisection expansion programme might very well be unique in that their 'prize' building project has been brought to a grinding halt by the SPEAK campaign. What is decidedly not unique is the University's regular dissemination of false information surrounding the project. Furthermore, incidents of criminal behaviour by some of its workers have not been isolated either; the sexual harassment of a female animal rights campaigner by an administrative staff member, site construction workers throwing caustic substances over a 70-year old protester, or a leading vivisector at the University breaching animal welfare laws are just three examples of prosecutable offences that have never reached the courts.

Surprising as such breaches in the law may be, given the avowed status of Oxford University, those prepared to inflict pain on an innocent creature are hardly going to have sleepless nights if they lie about it - after all, do they really want the world to know the truth about the torment to which sentient beings are being subjected by University staff? What we are seeing here is that allegedly law-abiding people are regularly breaking the law to shield those involved. The question is, who is more culpable - those breaking the law or those covering up these breaches of the law?

The flip side of this is that those fighting for the rights of these animals who would never dream of breaking the law under normal circumstances are being forced down the road of illegality. While the real law-breakers avoid prosecution, animal rights campaigners, forced to adopt unorthodox methods, are criminalised and made to face punitive legal measures at every turn. Whether this is because of the impotence of the British legal system or the vested interests of those in the vivisection industry is a moot point. One might argue that the legal system is there to actually uphold those who breach the law as long as they are there to maintain those that have powerful voices (ie the pharmaceutical companies etc). The recent case of the Oxford vivisector who forced a primate to suffer, despite recommendations for its euthanasia both by a Home Office Inspector and vet, is a case in point. He has not been prosecuted to date and has since applied for a Home Office licence renewal. The question must be asked: how and why has this man avoided prosecution?

But breaches in the law are the norm at Oxford University, it seems.. A dose scrutiny of the history of animal rights campaigns against the University shows that others have had to resort to illegal actions because the present legal system simply does not protect the weak and vulnerable. Indeed, lawbreakers have on numerous occasions highlighted illegal activities taking place at Oxford University.

Throughout the 1980s, a number of animal rights groups known as the 'Leagues' gained access to various laboratories and holding centres, with the aim of gathering information about animal abuse that was being kept from the British public. These were NALL (the Northern Animal Liberation League), SEALL (the South East Animal Liberation League) and CALL (the Central Animal Liberation League). The latter operated in the Oxford area.

The information gathered by CALL shows us that very little has changed where Oxford University's modus operandi is concerned - the lies disseminated today form a continuous link with the lies disseminated twenty years ago. One can at least say that Oxford University is consistent.

CALL's raison d'être was to gain information about the opposition's malpractices. One of the institutions they wanted to expose for breaking the law was Oxford University. The only means of obtaining this evidence, before undercover investigations became a more effective means of information gathering, was to gain illegal access to a given establishment. Their policy was to cause minimum damage, sufficient only to gain access in order to gather proof of what had long been suspected and thus to make public the lies being peddled to the public.

(continue to part b)


The Journal of History - Summer 2006 Copyright © 2006 by News Source, Inc.