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Last Updated: Monday, 2 August, 2004, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
US animal activist defies warning
Mouse, RDS/Wellcome Trust photo
An animal rights conference takes place in September
An American animal rights activist has pledged he will come to the UK despite the home secretary's warning he may not be allowed in.

A row is brewing over Dr Jerry Vlasak's keynote speech at an animal rights meeting in September.

David Blunkett has said Dr Vlasak would not be welcomed in the UK because of his comments.

The surgeon reportedly said millions of animal lives could be saved if a handful of vivisectionists were killed.

Dr Vlasak said he had been sent a "mind to exclude" notice a few days ago.

Perhaps other activists will stand up for my beliefs
Dr Jerry Vlasak

He said he replied to the notice saying cruelty to animals was akin to South Africa's former apartheid policy and slavery in America.

He said he would do everything in his power to get to the conference, to be held in a field in Tonbridge, Kent.

He was 'dismayed' the UK was taking action against those who stood up for "freedom of speech".

"I am determined to come, I aim to arrive as scheduled," he said.

"I hope to hold a press conference but if I am not allowed into the country I will probably be held in detention.

"Perhaps other activists will be outside and will stand up for my beliefs."

New crackdown

On Friday the Home Office unveiled plans for a crackdown on animal rights campaigners who use terror tactics against scientists

Protesting outside someone's house in an intimidating manner will be made a specific criminal offence and harassment laws will be tightened.

It follows concern the economy is being harmed by the security costs firms face in dealing with such activism.

The Home Office has the right to exclude anyone it believes may be intending to cause violence in the UK
Home Office

The government has warned activists they may be banned from entering the UK and statements made by them are being examined.

The three-day September meeting has been organised by anti-vivisection groups Speak and Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty.

They have been campaigning against practices at the Cambridgeshire research centre Huntingdon Life Sciences.

The gathering will include tips on working undercover, classes on self-defence and unarmed combat and hunt saboteur's actions.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "The Home Office has sent a warning to a number of American activists that they are examining statements they have made about issues involving potential violence in the UK.

"The Home Office has the right to exclude anyone it believes may be intending to cause violence or provoke violence in the UK."

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