Page last updated at 16:45 GMT, Thursday, 22 January 2009

Activist denies arson attacks

Mel Broughton
Mel Broughton denied conspiracy to commit arson

A "dedicated" animal rights campaigner was involved in planting home-made petrol bombs at Oxford University, Oxford Crown Court has heard.

Mel Broughton, 48, of Semilong Road in Northampton, is alleged to have planned and possibly carried out arson attacks on university buildings.

Two improvised bombs made from fuel and sparklers exploded at Queen's College sports pavilion in November 2006.

Mr Broughton denies all the charges. The trial continues.

Police arrested the animal rights campaigner at his home in December 2007.

They discovered 14 packets of sparklers in an unused water tank in his bathroom, the court heard.

They also found a university employee's security pass and notebook containing a list of those identified as targets for "direct action".

Neil Moore, prosecuting, told the court that Mel Broughton was a single man who had "effectively dedicated his adult life to the cause of animal rights".

Mr Broughton was said to be the leading figure of animal rights group Speak, which started in 2004 in protest at plans to build an animal testing research laboratory in Oxford.

He is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit arson and one count of possession of an article or articles with intent to destroy or damage property.

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