WITHIN weeks of having to halt controversial baboon research in Kenya, Newcastle University has had to defend experiments on monkeys closer to home.

Following a campaign by the British Union Against Vivisection (BUAV) which accused Newcastle University of breaking international law by experimenting on baboons caught in the wild, Newcastle University agreed to stop experiments on baboons at a research centre in Kenya.

Now a small animal rights organisation known as the Anti-Vivisection Coalition – headed by an activist who has served a prison sentence for harassing scientists - has called on the university to halt experiments on macaque monkeys at Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience.

Luke Steele, head of AVC, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in July 2012 for harassing laboratory staff and given a criminal ASBO barring him from taking part in animal rights demonstrations.

Mr Steele claimed that macaques have been deprived of food and water, had their skulls sawn open and electrodes implanted into their brains within the Institute of Neuroscience.

Mr Steele claimed that the experiments were “horrendously cruel” and were opposed by the public.

He said AVC activists planned to picket Newcastle University next month.

In response to the AVC press release a Newcastle University statement said: "This work in primates could help around one million people in the UK who suffer from shakes and tremors as it has enabled Newcastle University scientists to discover a mechanism in the spine which means they are a step closer to treating these shakes and transforming lives.

"The mechanism works to counteract the brain waves which produce tremor, making significant progress towards a treatment and this groundbreaking work could not have been done without the use of animals. This work was ethically approved and funded by the Wellcome Trust."