Sir – P. J. Stewart asks that we be told `how much the Animal Lab has cost, including delays, policing, court costs etc. (Letters, November 27).

Some of these questions were partially addressed at the University’s `briefing sessions’ earlier in November on what Prof Stewart calls the ‘mighty mouse motel’.

(Sadly it will contain primates as well as mice, nor will it merely be a ‘motel’ as some ‘procedures’ will be taking place in the new building.) The estimated cost prior to all the delays was £18m; presumably the total cost — which we will not know until after the annual audit — will be a great deal higher.

Security has cost £4.5m to date; security costs will continue, including policing the transport of animals to and from the new building. The presenters of the briefing session were, curiously, unable to specify the court costs to date for the University's injunction on the protesters; again, these costs will mount further, since the University will return to court next year in an effort to make the temporary injunction permanent. One is tempted to put these spiralling costs in the context of the University’s decision to scale back on its plans for new housing in Wolvercote for its staff because they were ‘too expensive’ (Report, September 19, 2008). Where are its priorities and how have they been arrived at? Prof Stewart highlights the cost to goodwill of pressing forward with the new biomedical research building, as opposed to keeping the then status quo.

I might highlight the cost to goodwill of re-committing to animal-based research instead of investing in the development of new non-animal-based research techniques — a move which would also have circumvented the costs of delays to the building, of security and of court fees.

Katherine Morris, Fellow in Philosophy, Mansfield College, Oxford