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animal research in the UK timeline (1986-2014)

  Download this factsheet as a pdf.



Legislative, judicial & governmental action


Animal activist / extremist activity

Science & medical community action


Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act passed, ensuring minimum animal welfare standards in UK laboratories.





(July) Consort Kennels in Hereford, a laboratory beagle breeder, closes after a 10-month animal rights campaign including the theft of 26 beagles.






(August) Hillgrove Farm in Oxfordshire, the UK’s only commercial breeder of laboratory cats, closes after a violent three year campaign.

(Nov) Stop Huntingon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) formed by activists behind closures of Consort Kennels and Hillgrove Farms to shut down Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS).




(July) Regal Rabbits, a research rabbit breeding farm in Surrey, and Shamrock Farm, the UK’s only importation and quarantine centre for research primates, both close after intimidation campaigns.




(Jan) RBS pull out of providing HLS with banking services after SHAC intimidate RBS staff.





(July) HoL Select Committee
on Animals in Scientific Procedures endorses use of animals for research and calls for more emphasis on the “three Rs”.

SPEAC (Stop Primate Experiments At Cambridge) founded to stop the building of a new primate research facility at the University of Cambridge.





Coalition for Medical Progress founded to communicate the benefits of animal research.








(May) National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (NETCU) founded under the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) 

(July) Home Office announces new regulations for animal rights activism, drawing a distinction between lawful protest and illegal extremism.

(Jan) Cambridge University abandons plan for new primate laboratory after intense campaigning.

(March) SPEAK (formerly SPEAC) founded to oppose the construction of a new animal research facility at the University of Oxford.



(July) Building firm (Montpelier Construction Consortium) pulls out of University of Oxford animal facility.

(Oct) Darley Oaks Farm in Staffordshire closes its guinea pig breeding business after a violent six-year campaign including digging up the grave of Gladys Hammond, the owners’ mother-in-law, sparking widespread outrage.







(May) National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) established.


(April) Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 aims to tackle animal extremism including introducing a new “economic damage” offence.


(Nov) Work re-starts on University of Oxford lab following an injunction in which the constructor and supply chain are not identified.




(May) Nuffield Council on Bioethics report supports use of animals in research, while calling for more focus on finding alternatives and more transparency.















(May) Three extremists given 12 year prison sentences for blackmail in connection with the grave robbery of Gladys Hammond.





(Feb) Pro-Test campaign formed in Oxford in favour of continued animal testing.

(April)     People’s Petition signed by 20,000+ signatories, including Tony Blair, in support of medical research.


(June) Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council publish booklet on use of primate in medical research.

(July) SMC persuade Home Office to hold first ever press briefing at Science Media Centre alongside independent scientists to announce annual statistics on animals used in research.

(Dec) The Weatherall Report into the use of non-human primates in research concludes “there is a strong scientific case”.


(May) Operation Achilles, a europe-wide police operation, makes 32 arrests of extremists.






Journalists, politicians and public begin to be invited into a small number of animal labs without negative backlash.

(Nov) New University of Oxford lab opens.


(Jan) Seven extremists jailed for a total of 50 years for intimidation and blackmail of Huntingdon Life Sciences as part of Operation Achilles.


(Jan) Understanding Animal Research founded as merger of the Research Defence Society and Coalition for Medical Progress. 


(July) SPEAK leader Mel Broughton jailed for 10 years over fire-bombing at the University of Oxford.

(Nov) EU Directive 2010/63/EU “on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes” is finalised, standardising European animal laboratory standards and improving animal welfare across the EU.









(May) UK government pledges to reduce the number of animals used in research.


NETCU transferred from ACPO to the Metropolitan Police and renamed National Domestic Extremism Unit.



(June) Animal Aid launch “victims of charity” campaign targeting medical research charities.






(Nov) BHF launches ‘Mending Broken Hearts’ appeal using laboratory zebrafish as a central part of their campaign.



(March) Outcry after the last ferry company transporting research animals into the UK capitulates to intimidation campaign by animal rights activists.




(Sept) University of Leicester throws open the doors to its new animals lab on opening day.

(Oct) Over 40 biomedical institutions sign Declaration of Openness on Animal Research as Ipsos MORI report a 10 percentage point drop in public support for use of animals in medical research.

(Dec) Victoria Derbyshire broadcasts live on BBC Radio 5 Live from inside animal facility at MRC Harwell. 


(Jan) EU Directive 2010/63/EU fully implemented.



(Nov) UAR launches public consultation on Concordat on Openness on Animal Research




(April) Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) extremist Debbie Vincent given 6 year sentence for intimidation campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences.


(Jan) Fergus Walsh gets unfettered access to University of Oxford primate lab.


(May) Concordat on Openness on Animal Research launched.



This is a fact sheet issued by the Science Media Centre to provide background information on science topics relevant to breaking news stories. This is not intended as the ‘last word’ on a subject, but rather a summary of the basics and a pointer towards sources of more detailed information. These can be read as supplements to our roundups and/or briefings.

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