Sir – Your correspondent, Daniel Emlyn-Jones (Letters, December 4), resorts to the universal alibi of all those seeking to justify cruelty to animals: namely, that since the majority of the population eat meat, they have no right to protest against other forms of exploitation.

This pretext is commonly used by those engaged in illegal foxhunting, bullfighting, badger baiting and a myriad of other forms of cruelty and while as a vegetarian I accept that the argument has some validity, taken to its ultimate conclusion, there is no limit to the degree of abuse that is then permissible.

Mr Emlyn-Jones proceeds in similar vein by referring to the poisoning of so-called ‘vermin’, the destruction of habitat, species extinction etc. However, two wrongs (or a thousand wrongs) do not make a right.

The law, despite the deliberate obfuscation in its wording, specifically permits the infliction of severe pain on animals and we know only too well from the scientific literature that scientists have no compunction in perpetrating it.

Many within the University itself have profound reservations about this barbaric anachronism, not only on moral grounds but also because the evidence as to its unscientific nature is overwhelming.

They, and others, are active in campaigning for a more enlightened attitude to research that is appropriate to the 21st century, not the Middle Ages.

Paul Richardson, Oxford