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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
MP condemns animal 'terrorists'
Dr Ian Gibson
Ian Gibson says he felt intimidated
Norfolk MP Ian Gibson has attacked violence perpetrated by animals rights extremists as "terrorism".

Mr Gibson wants the Home Office to treat the issue as seriously as other terrorist threats.

He said he had refused to go on BBC2's Newsnight on Monday to talk about reports that ministers were planning a crackdown on violent fanatics.

He said he and his wife feared being the target of animal extremists, as they had been before.

The Home Office is leading a cross-departmental strategy to target animal rights militants.

"We've been through this before - we've had to look under our car, we live in fear, when one of us is in London and the other in Norwich I don't know what's going to happen
Norwich North MP Ian Gibson
As part of the strategy, 43 specialist prosecutors, one for each criminal justice area in England and Wales, will work to prevent people working in animal research being terrorised in their homes.

Mr Gibson, who was an academic scientist before he was elected MP for Norwich North and who chairs the House of Commons select committee on science and technology, told BBC Radio Four's World At One programme that he had rejected an offer to appear on Newsnight.

"I spoke to my wife and said `no way'.

"We've been through this before - we've had to look under our car, we live in fear, when one of us is in London and the other in Norwich I don't know what's going to happen.

"I don't think people deserve to live like that just because they have strong beliefs one way or the other."

'Knee-jerk reaction'

He said stronger action had not been taken because "many people have not stood up and been counted to explain to the public why it is important that they do what they do using animals".

They were reluctant "because they've been intimidated like I was last night", he said.

"I think it's time we should have the full protection of law as I expect as a taxpayer in other avenues of life."

Asked whether the action of animal rights extremists amounted to terrorism he replied: "It does."

Mel Broughton, a spokesman for animal rights group Speak, which is campaigning to close Oxford University's new scientific centre, described the reported crackdown as "a knee-jerk reaction".

"There are already a plethora of public order laws to deal with protests by animal rights campaigners and we feel that this latest news is not so much to do with clamping down on protest but actually stifling the debate altogether," he said.




SEE ALSO:
New campaign on animal extremists
27 Jul 04  |  Politics
Challenge to animal lab decision
26 Jul 04  |  Cambridgeshire


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