Following Uncaged's historic legal victory which allowed publication of leaked xenotransplantation research documents, a complaint against the Home Office was lodged with the Parliamentary Ombudsman. However, the Ombudsman's report (ref: PA-2823), laid before Parliament on 15 December 2006, is a fundamentally flawed whitewash. This is basically a cover-up of Government collusion in illegal animal cruelty. Please:

Successes so far

For the best part of seven years, Uncaged has been fighting for justice for the hundreds of monkeys (and thousands of pigs) who were subjected to pointless, vicious and illegal experiments by Imutran. We've achieved major successes on the way:

  • Imutran closed down less than a week after we exposed them in 2000
  • In 2003 we won a historic 'David and Goliath' legal battle against Imutran and their multinational parent company Novartis, proving that we were right about their cosy and collusive relationship with Home Office Inspectors
  • We have published unique information revealing the true horrors and corruption surrounding animal experiments
  • We have fostered a more realistic attitude among the media and the public towards the lie that animal research is 'strictly regulated'
  • Our revelations have curtailed xenotransplantation research worldwide as confidence in the technology has waned

Ombudsman obstructs democratically-mandated consideration for animals

However, despite receiving support from over 200 backbench MPs, achieving any accountability or justice from the government itself is proving to be a surreal and tortuous experience. The Ombudsman's conduct and attitude exemplifies this. The Ombudsman carried out an incompetent investigation that was hampered by lengthy delays, staff absence etc., and their report is flawed in fundamental respects. This represents an important missed opportunity to pressurise the Home Office into scrutinising animal experiment proposals, which would immediately reduce the number of animals experimented on and their suffering.

As our new briefing explains, the Ombudsman's key finding was their exoneration of the Home Office's clear miscategorisation of severe pig-to-primate organ transplant experiments as of merely 'moderate' severity. This deception helped Imutran - the research company responsible - to get permission for these experiments more quickly and easily. A more honest assessment might have prevented this horrific suffering altogether.

In these experiments, many monkeys were allowed to suffer for so long that they were found dead or in a collapsed state - these were flagrant breaches of the moderate severity limit, and they prove that the original assessment was mistaken. Yet Home Office inspectors just turned a blind eye and let them carry on regardless.

Incompetent and prejudiced investigation

However, the Ombudsman has let the Home Office off the hook on the basis of a total misunderstanding (or misrepresentation?) of the facts of the case and the requirements of the regulatory system. Furthermore, and contrary to their letter to MPs, the Ombudsman has refused to consider our main criticism of their report when reviewing the case.

Interestingly, the Ombudsman's conclusion suggests that they were prejudiced against us from the start. They seem to view us as ill-informed and naïve campaigners who can't tell the difference between a critique of vivisection as a whole and a narrower critique of the way regulations are implemented. This is ironic given that it is the Ombudsman who doesn't seem to understand how the severity of animal experiments is supposed to be assessed and controlled.

In contrast to their scepticism towards Uncaged, the Ombudsman has automatically accepted Home Office submissions. This cosy relationship, combined with their apparent incomprehension of the regulatory system, means it's been easy for the Home Office to mislead and manipulate the Ombudsman into letting them off the hook.

Action: Put the Ombudsman on the spot

Another useful action you could take to help us would be to write to the Ombudsman's office yourself. You can email them at or write to them at:

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower

In particular, you could ask them the following key questions (which they have refused to answer so far):

  1. Does the Ombudsman accept that, in assessing whether the primates' suffering exceeded the 'moderate' severity limit (paragraph 13), that it has confused the harm caused by 'death in itself' with the harms caused in the Imutran case where death (or indeed a collapsed or moribund state) was the endpoint. In other words it has confused the severity of procedures where animals are put down while still under anaesthesia (i.e. not conscious for any part of the procedure), with this case, where the animals were conscious and allowed to suffer for several days until they died?

  2. Can the Ombudsman explain why this specific, crucial point was not considered in its review when - contrary to the Ombudsman's assertion - it did indeed raise new issues as it was only put forward by Uncaged in relation to the Ombudsman's report, rather than as part of the original complaint?

  3. Can the Ombudsman explain why it has suggested that Uncaged's complaint is about the merits of the regulatory system itself, when in fact it explicitly focussed on the way the Home Office administered those regulations in this case? Was this derogatory suggestion put to you by the Home Office?

  4. Does the Ombudsman acknowledge that such a false apprehension meant that it was prejudiced against Uncaged in its consideration of the complaint?

  5. The Ombudsman report reveals that it consistently deferred to Home Office claims. Will the Ombudsman publish the submissions it received from the Home Office in relation to this complaint, and its analysis of such submissions? Please disclose records of any other contacts with the Home Office.

Needless to say, if you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us at

Dr Dan Lyons, Uncaged Campaigns, 25 January 2007


Post-op baboon
Credit: Organ Farm

"The Home Office's conduct has been consistently dishonest and contemptuous towards any scrutiny or control of vivisection."








Baboon post-operation
Credit: Organ Farm

"The RSPCA report into this affair describes the adverse effects endured by the primates - such as whole body shaking, grinding of teeth, haemorrhaging, vomiting, weakness, wound-weeping, gangrene, tremors and diarrhoea - as 'severe,... serious and very unpleasant'.

"They go on to criticise the moderate severity rating, arguing that a substantial rating was 'without doubt' necessary: 'to alert the scientists and technicians involved to the need for greater vigilance, and in order to ensure a meaningful, realistic and honest cost-benefit analysis'."

Uncaged Briefing, January 2007








Post-op baboon
Credit: Organ Farm

"We have been left with the impression that the PHSO's priority has been to dispose of the case and defend their original decision rather than operate an open and fair review process."

Uncaged Briefing, January 2007












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