New Uncaged report exposes more deceit and law-breaking by Home Office

Uncaged's new report on the Diaries of Despair scandal has uncovered yet more systematic misconduct on the part of the Home Office in its enforcement of animal research regulations. The report is titled "In a collapsed state", a double reference: firstly to damning observations of dying monkeys following pig organ transplant experiments conducted by Imutran at HLS; and, secondly, to the regulatory system which is supposed to scrutinise vivisection proposals.

"In a collapsed state" has been submitted to an influential committee of MPs as part of Uncaged's long-running quest to bring the Home Office to justice for its illicit betrayal of animals. The Commons Home Affairs Committee will decide later this month whether to conduct a full inquiry into the Home Office's conduct. At the heart of the scandal is the Home Office failure to enforce fundamental aspects of Britain's supposedly strict regulatory system. The publication of "In a collapsed state" has the potential to lead to historic progress in the struggle against vivisection.

The report, written by Campaigns Director Dan Lyons, is in the form of an 'immanent critique' (1). It reveals how Home Office officials colluded with vivisectors to get round the law in order to give the go-ahead for the horrific research. Leaked documents show how severe and lethal experiments were classified as only 'moderately' severe, breaking the Home Office's own guidelines. Monkeys were then "found dead" in their cages, observed "in a collapsed state" and enduring traumatic and distressing ordeals (see box, right). Despite these violations of permitted levels of suffering, Home Office inspectors failed to punish the researchers and technicians responsible.

The evolutionary gap between pigs and humans is 180 millions years, translating to radical incompatibilities between pig organs and the human body. But Imutran's experiments were continually licensed because the Home Office turned a blind eye to these obstacles faced by pig-to-human transplants, making it appear more likely that the research would succeed. But, after five years and the deaths of five hundred primates, Imutran's research was abandoned as a total failure.

An internal review by the Home Office ignored the main allegations and glossed over animal welfare violations committed by Imutran and HLS, raising suspicions that the Home Office were attempting to pervert the course of Uncaged's legal battle with Imutran over disclosure of the documents. Uncaged later won on public interest grounds and were able to publish the evidence exposing the Home Office's deceit.

Since the famous legal victory in April 2003, the Home Office has embarked on a desperate campaign of misinformation and smear tactics in an effort to prevent any independent inquiry. "In a collapsed state" meticulously unpicks the Home Office's web of deceit, particularly its response to the Home Affairs Committee submitted in October last year. However, with the Home Affairs Committee dominated by Labour MPs, the decision of the Committee will rest on whether their sense of justice and duty outweighs any tendency to jump to the Government's defence without reference to the facts.

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  1. In other words, it uses the Home Office's own rules, guidelines and statements as the basis of the analysis.

Uncaged Campaigns, 10 February 2004


Primate operation
Credit: Organ Farm


Read "In a collapsed state" here. An executive summary is also available.



For example: "in a collapsed state", paralysis, stroke, "uncoordinated limb spasms", wounds seeping blood and pus for several days, vomiting, diarrhoea, haemorrhaging, anaemia, gangrene, "in obvious discomfort", "Abdomen swollen and appears fluid filled. Salivating. Very laboured breathing. Extreme difficulty trying to walk", weak and unable to stand, "retching and salivating", pneumonia, shallow and rapid breathing, "very distressed and having difficulty breathing, mucous membranes blue-grey in colour, animal collapsed", body and limb tremors, huddled and reluctant to move, "Appears cold. Extremely pale and weak", grinding teeth, rolling eyes, "yellow fluid draining from nostrils", bloody discharge and clots from genitalia, cancer, "Large abdominal wall abscess", "large volume of bloody mucoid faeces", "large open wound on right arm, discharging pus", "huddled with head between legs".





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