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Biomed lab deal on the cards despite firebombing

OXFORD University has vowed it will finish its controversial £18 million biomedical research laboratory after animal rights extremists set fire to a boathouse at the college, almost a year since contractor Montpellier pulled out of the scheme.

The Animal Liberation Front confirmed last week that a posting on the internet claimed the group was behind the arson attack at Hertford College.

Extremists linked to the ALF claimed to have broken into Hertford College boathouse and detonated an incendiary device containing 11 litres of petrol.

An ALF spokesman said: 'So long as Oxford University appear determined to build this facility then the whole university remains a legitimate target.'

Thames Valley Police have launched an investigation into the fire. A spokesman said: 'We are aware of the information that has been circulated claiming responsibility.'

The university is due to award the contract to complete the lab but a High Court injunction protects the name of the builder and other suppliers working on the project from being identified.

A university spokeswoman said: 'We are working towards getting work started on site shortly.We will be not releasing the timings.'

Montpellier subsidiary Walter Lilley withdrew last July after threats from protesters.