Two-and-a-half year legal battle ends in victory for Uncaged Campaigns

Confidential documents to be disclosed on public interest grounds

Today's Observer breaks the news of an historic victory for Uncaged Campaigns following a gruelling 30 month legal battle. The group and its director, Dan Lyons, had been fighting the multi-billion pound drug giant Novartis Pharma in a bid to overturn an injunction that had banned publication of documents leaked from the pharmaceutical company, many of which had first been published in September 2000.

Earlier this month, the High Court in London ratified an out-of-court settlement that signified the collapse of Novartis' attempt to bury the horrific scandal contained in the documents. The anti-vivisection group has won the right to publish over a thousand pages of documents that describe in unique detail harrowing experiments involving the transplant of GM pig organs into five hundred higher primates. A second leak of related documents, from the Home Office, are to be included in the published dossier. Some of the research had been personally approved by Home Office Ministers who later blocked an inquiry into the affair.

The research was conducted by Cambridge-based biotech subsidiary Imutran Ltd at the laboratories of Huntingdon Life Sciences. Imutran, later bought by Novartis in 1996, had hyped pig organs as an imminent solution to transplant waiting lists. The secret documents reveal that the experiments were in fact a blood-soaked disaster, causing severe suffering as scientists failed to overcome the complex barriers to cross-species transplants.

The Defendants, who were forced to represent themselves for over a year of the legal proceedings, consistently argued that there was an overriding public interest in the disclosure of the confidential papers because they demonstrated:

  • severe animal suffering
  • breaches of laws and regulations
  • Government collusion and malpractice
  • Inaccurate statements by Imutran
  • Public health hazards

The scandalous conduct of the Government was a crucial aspect of the Defence argument, as Imutran and Novartis had contended that disclosure to the official regulatory bodies was sufficient. However, Uncaged argue that it is essential that an independent inquiry be established due to the compelling evidence of Government wrongdoing. The Defendants' case has prevailed, proving the case for such an inquiry.

Today, Uncaged can finally publish the banned documents and Diaries of Despair report, together with an extensive commentary, on their website at

Dan Lyons, director of Uncaged and co-Defendant in procedures, comments:

"This has been a real David & Goliath struggle, but we're overjoyed that we have at last secured a victory for freedom of information and democracy. The public, media and politicians will now be able to see the reality of animal experiments, a reality that industry and the Government have fought so hard to conceal. We're entering a new era in the debate about animal experiments and we're confident that, now the truth is out, it will be much more difficult for researchers to excuse such a cruel and futile practice.

"We've been truly appalled by the dirty tricks employed by Novartis and the Government in this battle. The hallmarks of animal experiments are brutality, injustice and irrationality: those features are common to the treatment of animals and the political tactics of the vivisection industry and its supporters in Government. We will now strive to achieve a thorough and independent inquiry into these atrocities. We also call on those Ministers and officials responsible for malpractice to carefully consider their positions."

Uncaged Campaigns, 20 April 2003


Cutting from the Observer

The caption on the Observer article reads, "Baboons were imported from Africa to Huntingdon and died in steel cages the size of toilet cubicles."























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