Real courage

Amid all the posturing cant about ‘freedom’ and ‘standing up to fanatics’ triggered by the Danish cartoon controversy, here’s an example of real courage.

Oblivious to the bowl of day-old pasta resting among the exposed wires of his home-built computer, 16-year-old Laurie Pycroft, a floppy-haired sixth form dropout from Swindon, flicks between three screens to keep up with his emails, blog and website. Empty Coke cans, juice bottles and fried chicken boxes litter his bedroom floor.

This is the unlikely nerve centre of a new pro-vivisection campaign which has attracted the backing of some of the most respected scientists in the country. In Oxford today, Pycroft’s group, Pro-Test, will launch the fightback against the city’s army of vocal and sometimes aggressive anti-vivisectionists.

At noon, the teenager will stand up in front of as many as 1,000 vivisection supporters and introduce the most eminent supporters of his campaign, consultant neurosurgeon Professor Tipu Aziz and neurophysiologist Professor John Stein.

I’m delighted to see that the Oxford rally went ahead.