Page last updated at 12:16 GMT, Friday, 9 April 2010 13:16 UK

Oxford University animal lab police bill was 16m

A contractor wears a balaclava while working on the building.
Contractors wore masks to hide their identity from protesters

The cost of policing the building of Oxford University's controversial animal research centre was £16.3m, it has been revealed.

The centre was targeted by protests from animal rights campaigners while construction workers received threats in letters from extremists.

The bill was paid to Thames Valley Police by the Home Office between 2005/6 and 2008/9.

The figure was revealed following a BBC Freedom of Information Request.

It also revealed that the building - which took five years to build and eventually opened in 2008 - cost nearly £12m more than was originally planned.

Intimidation and harassment

The University of Oxford's Biomedical Science Building was supposed to cost about £18m but it actually cost £29.8m to build with a further £6m spent by the university on its own security.

The construction project became the target of animal rights campaigners.

While the vast majority of protests were entirely lawful, various staff, contractors and shareholders fell victim to intimidation and harassment by extremists.

Building work had to be suspended in 2004 when the main contractors pulled out and eventually restarted again in 2005 amid tight security.

Professor Alastair Buchan, head of medical science at the University of Oxford, defended the use of animal research.

He said:"You can't put a value on what can be done with research, it can change the way we manage spinal cord injury, it can change the way we hopefully can prevent diseases like dementia or stroke and we're desperate to find vaccines for diseases like HIV.

"That comes at a high price because the quality of research has to be absolutely the best."

Opponents have claimed animals will be "abused" and want researchers to look at alternative methods.



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