Nothing you own is off limits
By Rachel Cornwell
Animal rights extremists have vowed to destroy systematically every last bit of property owned by Oxford University and to launch attacks at will, in a dramatic escalation of the long running campaign against the proposed biomedical research facility on South Parks Road.
The stark message came as activists claimed responsibility for a major arson attack on Hertford College boathouse that caused over half a million pounds' worth of damage and an attempted second arson at a remote sports pavilion owned by Corpus Christi College.
The landmark attacks are symbolic of the activists' decision to increase the ferocity of their campaign by turning their attention away from the research facility and deciding to target all members and buildings of the university.
In the most recent incident, university security staff called police after an alarm system alerted them to a break in at the pavilion, which is situated off Whitehouse Road.
Scene of crime officers found traces of an accelerant, a catalyst used to increase the rate at which a fire spreads, at the site and later confirmed that the intention had been to start a fire. CCTV footage from the property is currently being examined by police.
It comes less than two months after 26 boats and thousands of pounds worth of blades and other equipment belonging to student rowing clubs were destroyed in a major arson attack that left much of Hertford boathouse gutted and cost the six boat clubs over �500,000.
Fire crews were called to the scene, on the west bank of the Isis, at 11.01pm on the night of Monday 4th July, where they battled to bring the blaze under control as fears of an imminent explosion forced the fire service to order a complete evacuation of the area.
A statement issued two days later in the Bite Back online magazine described how a cell from the Animal Liberation Front had travelled to Oxford armed with incendiary devices containing eleven litres of petrol, which were then deployed amongst the boats.
The statement goes on to detail how the locks of the boathouse were then glued together before the building was set alight, in an act dedicated to three high profile animal rights prisoners: Keith Mann, Sarah Gisbourne and Dave Blenkinsop.
The website also carried an explicit warning for students and staff: "From here on nothing you own, rent or have dealings with is off limits until the project is scrapped."