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Terror laws to hit animal activists

Animal rights activists could fall foul of the Government's proposed new anti-terror legislation, Home Secretary Charles Clarke warned

tonight.

The Terrorism Bill, which is due to get its second reading in the

House of Commons later this week, will make glorifying or indirectly

encouraging terrorism an offence carrying up to seven years'

imprisonment.

Contractor Montpellier and its subcontractors were targeted by activists for working on Oxford University's new primate research laboratory last year. Montpellier withdrew from the scheme in July 2004 after threats to shareholders.

Mr Clarke was asked by Oxford West and Abingdon Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris whether 'domestic terrorism' by animal rights extremists would be covered by the bill.

Mr Clarke told the Joint Committee on Human Rights: 'It's not

targeted specifically at that sort of terrorism but I certainly think

that animal rights terrorism is something that has to be attacked.

'I do think it was a terrorist act to burn down buildings in

Oxford which the animal rights organisations did.'

In July, an arson attack - for which animal rights activists later

claimed responsibility - left a Hertford College boathouse in the

city gutted by fire.

Dr Harris then asked whether those who sought to condone such actions by arguing that violence against animals justified a violent response could be hit by the legislation.

'Those who argue that committing terrorist acts to promote the

cause of ' animal rights' and to justify it by reference to a phrase

such as ' violence begets violence' is illegitimate and would be

covered by this legislation, as I understand it,' Mr Clarke

answered.

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