CHRONOLOGY OF THE LEGAL BATTLE
(UCL) received several hundred unsolicited photocopied documents
(including correspondence) and a CD-ROM containing 39 study
reports that had been produced for Imutran ("the documents").
The documents concerned the xenotransplantation research programme
carried out by Imutran.
21 September 2000
On the basis of the documents and on the basis of information on
the subject that was already in the public domain, UCL published
on the internet a 150 page report
entitled "Diaries of Despair" ("the Report").
The Report was written by Mr Lyons, was presented as a UCL publication
and extensively quoted from the documents. Both the report and the
documents (upon which it was based) were published on the Defendants
website. The decision to add the documents to the website was made
in order to substantiate the validity of the report's concerns.
21 and 22 September 2000
The Daily Express published articles
referring to the work of Imutran (and HLS), to "secret papers"
which revealed the true extent of suffering of animals involved
in the xenotransplantation experiments and to the exaggerated claims
made in the past by Imutran concerning the success of the experiments.
22 September 2000
UCL was contacted by Imutran's solicitors, Eversheds, and was informed
that Imutran considered that the Defendants had, without prior authorisation,
published confidential documentation which was Imutran's exclusive
property which was covered by copyright.
22 September 2000
On the same day UCL's then solicitors, Simons, Muirhead & Burton,
offered to meet Imutran's representatives with a view to reaching
a mutually satisfactory agreement. Whilst these discussions were
ongoing, Eversheds persuaded UCL's Internet Service Provider to
shut down www.uncaged.co.uk
in the mistaken belief that this was the site on which Imutran's
documentation had been published. In the light of Imutran's unilateral
actions, UCL was happy to leave the full report and the Claimants'
documents on www.xenodiaries.org
pending a mutually satisfactory agreement between the parties which
UCL continued to try to reach, or a court ruling.
26 September 2000
Mr Justice Hart granted an interim injunction against the Defendants
(surprisingly, Imutran named Mr Lyons as a joint Defendant along
with UCL), based on breach of confidence and breach of copyright.
The injunctions prevented the Defendants from disseminating Imutran's
documents to the general public.
10 October 2000
This injunction was extended by Mr Justice Ferris and again on
the 18th of October by the Vice Chancellor Sir Andrew Morritt pending
a full hearing. Morritt VC heard the matter on the 14th and 18th
of December 2000.
17 October 2000
On legal advice, the Defendants offered to limit publication to
the report and approximately 60 accompanying documents. Imutran
responded with objections that the Defendants considered so extensive
as to make further discussion futile. Accordingly, with the exception
of individual names and addresses, the Defendants sought to publish
all of the documents originally published and continued to contest
11 January 2001
Morritt VC extended the injunction to trial or further Order and
granted leave to appeal against his judgment. The injunction that
was extended included a proviso which permitted distribution of
the documents to a group of "authorised recipients"- Government
bodies and departments - to whom Imutran sought to limit dissemination.
These recipients are the Animal Procedures Committee (APC), the
Good Laboratory Practice Monitoring Authority (GLPMA), the UK Xenotransplantation
Interim Regulation Authority (UKXIRA) and personnel at the Home
Office having responsibility for regulating animal experimentation.
Morritt's judgment appears to have completely ignored Defence evidence
and witness statements, and was flatly mistaken on matters of fact
regarding evidence of Home Office misconduct. Furthermore, his 'surprising'
legal interpretations have since been contradicted. (1)
Sir Andrew Morritt has two hobbies listed in "Who's Who":
fishing and shooting. This perverse judgment proves to be a hindrance,
but is eventually overcome...
10 April 2001
Novartis Pharma AG, Imutran parent company, join the action as
a joint Claimant with Imutran. The Defendants become unrepresented
as their solicitors come off the record.
Dan Lyons applies to the Legal Service Commission (LSC) for legal
aid, through solicitors Bindman & Partners. (Companies are ineligible.)
A Case Management Conference (CMC) hearing at the High Court sets
a pre-trial timetable, setting deadlines for responding to questions
about the Defence case, exchanging lists of documents that each
party would rely on in evidence at trial, and submitting copies
of witness statements to be used at trial. Significantly, at the
CMC, Dan Lyons (representing himself and Uncaged Campaigns) defeated
an attempt by Imutran/Novartis and their solicitors to prevent the
Defendants calling an Expert Witness to explain how the Home Office
has connived with the company to break its own rules.
Application to LSC refused. Review of refusal is requested.
LSC review committee in Cambridge refuses to grant legal aid. Re-application
sent to LSC head office.
20 December 2001
LSC refuse to grant funding once again, citing Morritt's judgment
as evidence that Defendants' prospects of success was 'poor'. LSC
recommends obtaining counsel's (i.e. from a barrister or QC) Opinion
on prospects of successfully defending the case.
21 December 2001
Defendants serve a response to the "Request for Further Information
about the Defence" which had been demanded by Imutran/Novartis.
In this response we were required to explain in detail certain aspects
of the Defence's legal arguments and list the documents which we
believed demonstrated our case (these form the basis of the lists
of documents provided above which we have now published.) Both parties
have also had to compile a list of documents which are relevant
to the case, whether they support or adversely affect their own
position. We recognised that Imutran/Novartis' list was very thin,
and saw the need to challenge them to disclose important, relevant
documents that shed light on, for example, the suffering endured
by the primates and the company's relationship with the Home Office.
Imutran and Novartis claim that important documents - most of their
press releases - were 'accidentally destroyed' because their PR
firm sent them to the wrong department. We imagine this would be
an unusual occurrence.
Joint Opinion from two counsel advises that the prospects of success
are better than evens, and also points out that the case raises
significant human rights issues and serious matters of public interest.
In Counsels' view, public funding (i.e. legal aid) should be granted.
This Opinion is forwarded to the LSC for a review of their refusal
to grant funding.
25 February 2002
Funding refused again by LSC.
Bindmans write to LSC informing them of an intended court action
(judicial review) against them on the grounds that their refusal
to grant legal aid is unlawful, in that it effectively denies Mr
Lyons a fair trial, among other reasons.
LSC agrees that the prospects of success are higher than they previously
acknowledged and places the application before its public interest
advisory panel (PIAP).
11 July 2002
The PIAP reaches a unanimous decision that the case has a "significant
wider public interest" and classed this as "high"
- a rare categorisation. Bindman & Partners now go on the record
for Mr Lyons following grant of public funding. (See Legal
Defendant's solicitors write to request disclosure of a large volume
of documents by Imutran/Novartis, and charge them with failing to
fulfil their duty to disclose documents to the Court. Claimants
refuse and hearing date is set for November.
Defendants receive second leak of documents,
this time from Home Office. These comprise many of the same documents
whose disclosure was requested by the Defendants. The Defendants
feel that these documents reveal evidence that strengthens their
case considerably, and feel aggrieved that, in their view, these
documents were unjustifably withheld from them by Imutran/Novartis.
Disclosure hearing postponed and trial date - 20 January 2003 -
is 'vacated' (i.e. the trial is moved from that date).
A new Court Order is made after Imutran/Novartis surrender and
agree to allow the Defendants to publish over a thousand pages of
documents including the Diaries of Despair report.
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