Legal update

The legal proceedings brought against myself and Uncaged Campaigns by Imutran & Novartis Pharma are still ongoing. (Contrary to a mistaken sentence in Dr Ho's review of George Monbiot's "Captive State" book, circulated by EFMA and VIN, no trial has taken place in these proceedings, the current injunction is only temporary at the moment.)

The argument in favour of an independent judicial inquiry is very similar to central aspects of our Defence in the legal proceedings brought against us by Imutran and Novartis Pharma as they seek a permanent injunction preventing us from publishing the report and documentation. We have contested the proceedings for twenty months now, mostly without legal representation. That situation appears likely to change soon for significant reasons.

After an arduous application process lasting almost a year, the Legal Services Commission have recommended to the Lord Chancellor's Department that I receive legal aid on the basis that we have a good chance of success and the case raises public interest issues which are of particularly high significance. The good chance of success is based partly on the strength of evidence of Home Office culpability referred to above. (Indeed, we would not have published the documents in the first place, called for an independent judicial inquiry and contested the legal proceedings despite the threat of personal bankruptcy and enormous resource disadvantage were it not for the strength of our case.)

The particular legal impact of this issue is that because the leaked documentation shows evidence of Home Office wrongdoing, it cannot be satisfactory to limit disclosure to the Home Office - independent, public scrutiny is required. Furthermore, none of the other current "Authorised Recipients" of the injuncted material (e.g. the APC) has the power or independence to justify limited disclosure rather than public disclosure. Ironically, the Home Office's conduct since the exposé, in particular the refusal to agree to an independent investigation, has strengthened our case.

The RSPCA's own report on this affair is likely to be published in the near future - the RSPCA has already echoed our call for an independent judicial inquiry.

I'm sure you can appreciate that the last twenty months have been pretty horrendous both for myself and for Uncaged Campaigns as we have tried to contest the proceedings as litigants in person against a very powerful and ruthless company. Hopefully, the battle will eventually have been well worth it when we can publish the leaked documents or a selection of them, and Uncaged Campaigns and I can avoid bankruptcy!

Uncaged Campaigns, 12 June 2002


Credit: Corin Jeavons














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