All-party Commons Motion calls for inquiry into Government-licensed cruelty

Earlier today, MP's from across the political spectrum tabled a Commons Motion calling for an independent inquiry into evidence of Government misconduct which led to severe suffering for primates. Early Day Motion 1340 also welcomes a historic legal victory by animal protection group Uncaged which has enabled the publication of over a thousand pages of leaked confidential documents and the accompanying 'Diaries of Despair' report.

Uncaged defeated multi-billion pound company Novartis on the grounds that the documents revealed horrific suffering in pig-to-primate organ transplant experiments, and exposed Government collusion with the company and a failure to enforce basic requirements of animal research regulations. The experiments were conducted by Cambridge-based Novartis subsidiary Imutran Ltd at the facilities of controversial testing firm Huntingdon Life Sciences. To give just one example of the appalling effects of the research, monkey V7 was observed: "Grinding teeth... bloody urine... reluctant to move... crouched in corner of cage, salivating and retching. Sacrificed."

The leaked papers also reveal that statements given to Parliament by Ministers were economical with the truth, and expose further breaches of the law at Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). Uncaged's victory also brings to light evidence that HLS did not meet the requirements for a license to perform animal experiments, and will intensify demands that the under-fire company be stripped of its vivisection permit.

The motion will increase the pressure on the Government, coming just days after the influential Commons Home Affairs Committee decided to question the department about its conduct. Uncaged have been especially critical of the decision by the then Home Secretary Jack Straw to renege on a previous announcement by ordering an internal review instead, despite the evidence of Home Office misconduct contained in the secret papers. The recent publication of the leaked documents has unmasked systematic inaccuracies in the Home Office report, compiled by a senior civil servant who oversaw the original licensing of the Imutran research. It has also emerged via a Parliamentary Question that part of the research programme was personally authorised by Home office Ministers, and Uncaged are deeply worried about the acute conflict of interest.

Dan Lyons, who was a joint Defendant in the case, says:

"The documents and the Diaries of Despair report reveal that the Government does not even enforce the most basic legal constraints on animal experiments, and it is this profound matter of public interest that played a crucial role in our victory over Novartis. The Government has betrayed vulnerable, defenceless animals and the rule of law under pressure from amoral commercial interests. The records of the experiments strongly suggest that animals were subjected to illegal severe suffering, and scientific experts admit that the experiments led up a 'blind alley'. Yet the Home Office continued to rubber-stamp Imutran's demands, literally letting them get away with murder.

"No matter what one thinks about the the acceptability of animal experiments, everyone should agree that the Government should be investigated if it has failed to enforce the law - with such harrowing consequences. We have a cast-iron case for an independent inquiry, and just as we won our extraordinary legal battle against all the odds, so we are determined to win this political battle."

Notes for editors

The text of EDM 1340, entitled "Uncaged Campaigns" is as follows:

"That this House welcomes the historic legal victory achieved by Uncaged Campaigns allowing publication, in the public interest, of documents and a report describing Imutran/Novartis' primate xenotransplantation research programme at Huntingdon Life Sciences; notes that the evidence contained within these documents, together with the fact of Uncaged Campaigns' victory, raises profound questions about severe animal suffering and the adequacy of the Home Office's enforcement of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and associated regulations; and calls upon the Government to establish an independent inquiry to investigate fully the conduct of the Home Office, Imutran and Huntingdon Life Sciences in relation to this programme of research."

The motion is lead by the following MPs: Norman Baker (Lib Dem), Colin Breed (Lib Dem), Tony Banks (Lab), Paul Flynn (Lab), Anne Widdecombe (Con) and Simon Thomas (Plaid Cymru).

Uncaged Campaigns, 05 June 2003


Baboon post-op
Credit: Organ Farm

EDM 1340: "This house... calls upon the Government to establish an independent inquiry to investigate fully the conduct of the Home Office, Imutran and Huntingdon Life Sciences in relation to this programme of research."

























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