Rally, march and die-in

On Saturday 21st September 2002, six hundred demonstrators gathered in Central London to demand an independent judicial inquiry into the Government's failure to enforce laws in approving licenses for animal experiments.

In spring 2000, thousands of pages of documents were leaked to anti-vivisection group Uncaged Campaigns.

The documents came from Imutran Ltd, a biotech subsidiary of Novartis Pharma and described severe pig-to-primate organ transplant experiments conducted at controversial research company Huntingdon Life Sciences.

The Diaries of Despair report, published by Uncaged Campaigns exactly two years ago on 21 September 2000, presented evidence of:

  • severe suffering endured by macaque monkeys and wild-caught baboons in experiments
  • a collusive relationship between Home Office regulators and the research companies
  • Home Office bending and breaking rules to facilitate the approval of licenses for the research
  • misleading statements from the Government about the research programme, covering up problems and breaches of regulations
  • exaggerated claims made by Imutran for the progress of their research and false denials of animal suffering

A weekend of protest began on Friday 20 September with a demonstration and petition submission calling on the Prime Minister to establish the independent inquiry into the Government's dereliction of duty.

Saturday 21st September was a warm late summer's day in the capital. A mass midday rally at Temple Place was addressed by Andrew Tyler, director of Animal Aid, and Dan Lyons from Uncaged Campaigns.

The demonstrators then set off on a noisy and colourful long march to the Home Office. At the Home Office, hundreds of protesters in monkey costumes staged a poignant 'die-in' and two minutes silence in memory of the Imutran primates.

Memorial books for the animals were signed, with hundreds of messages urging the Home Office to come clean and agree to an independent enquiry. The protest ended with the submission of the memorial books to the Home Office.

Dan Lyons reflects on the day's events:

"Today was an inspirational, uplifting demonstration. There's growing anger at the biased, contemptuous attitude of the Blair Government to the controversial issue of vivisection. But on the other hand, there's growing optimism in the progress we're making in exposing abuse and malpractice.

"A policy built on lies and deceit cannot stand the test of time. We will win because the Diaries of Despair campaign is based on truth, justice and democratic values.

"We'd like to express our deepest gratitude to every single person who participated and supported the protests."

Uncaged Campaigns and Dan Lyons will now continue to focus determinedly on winning their two year legal battle with Imutran & Novartis as they try to overturn a temporary injunction which prevents the publication of the leaked documents.

Uncaged Campaigns, 21 September 2002


Diaries of Despair march 2002
Credit: Corin Jeavons


Were you on the march? Email your thoughts and reflections to or buy your 'I was there 2002' banner in the Uncaged Campaigns roll of honour.



The march
Credit: Corin Jeavons


Die-in outside the Home Office
Credit: Corin Jeavons





Uncaged Campaigns logo