NEWS RELEASE

Judgement Day announced: Thursday 11 January - Senior judge will decide on ground-breaking case

At 2pm on Thursday 11th January 2001, the Vice Chancellor at the High Court in London will decide on an application for an injunction to prevent the public from having access to details of a horrific programme of animal experimentation.

The injunction is being sought by the Cambridge-based biotechnology company Imutran Ltd, and concerns documents leaked from the company to Uncaged Campaigns that describe it's programme of pig-to-primate organ transplant research conducted at controversial testing centre Huntingdon Life Sciences.

The legal battle follows publication of details of the research in the Daily Express on 21 September 2000. The paper described the severe and extensive suffering endured by hundreds of higher primates who had been implanted with transgenic pig organs. To take just one example, the Express described how:

"One monkey which had a pig heart attached to the blood vessels in its neck was seen holding the transplant which was 'swollen red' and 'seeping yellow fluid' for most of the last days of its life."

The huge volume of confidential documents - the largest set of data on animal experiments ever leaked - also suggests that the company has not been frank with the public and the scientific community. In addition, the documents also starkly reveal tragic failures in Home Office regulation and the Government's bias in favour of commercial researchers at the expense of animal welfare.

Simultaneously, Uncaged Campaigns published a 150 page report - 'Diaries of Despair' - together with the supporting documents. The injunction aims to suppress both the report and the documents.

Apart from the intrinsic importance of the case, it is also a landmark because the Vice Chancellor's decision will set ground-breaking precedent because it is one of the first cases to involve the application of the new Human Rights Act.

Imutran is a subsidiary of the multi-national pharmaceutical company Novartis (1999 turnover: 12.6 billion pounds). In a stunning announcement made four days after Imutran were exposed, Novartis announced that it would close Imutran and move its research to the U.S., a country which offers absolutely no legal protection for animals used in research. Despite the closure of Imutran, Novartis are threatening to pursue the case to full trial, a classic intimidatory approach adopted by enormously powerful companies to crush dissent. Despite being faced with a McLibel Mark 2 legal battle, the defendants are relaxed and positive.

Dan Lyons, author of the report, comments:

"Animal researchers, with the connivance of the Government, have systematically hidden the truth from the public. But informed debate and an effective democracy rely on the free and unhindered flow of information. The suffering of animals, the accuracy of biotech propaganda and the lack of commitment on the part of the Government to upholding the rule of law are all matters of enormous public interest. This application is a desperate attempt to keep a lid on what is easily the most devastating expose of vivisection ever to take place. We are struggling to resist this legal offensive so that the truth can be heard."

For further information and interviews, please contact Dan Lyons on 0114 2831155.

Notes for editors

  • Dan Lyons, 28, is Director of Uncaged Campaigns, and a specialist in the ethics of xenotransplantation. A graduate of the University of Sheffield, he is also currently researching the ethics of xenotransplantation towards a PhD qualification. His work has appeared in the Bulletin of Medical Ethics, the Medical Law Review and in a textbook for law students.

  • The following individuals have made witness statements in support of the Defendants:

    1. Dr Gill Langley, scientist and member of the Government's expert advisory committee on animal experiments, the Animals Procedures Committee.
    2. Professor Peter Singer, a philosophy and ethics specialist at Princeton University.
    3. Professor Robin Downie, a moral philosophy expert at Glasgow University and former member of the Kennedy Committee, appointed by the Government, who issued a report on the ethics of xenotransplantation in 1997.
    4. Norman Baker MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson on animal welfare.
  • Imutran have not accused either Uncaged Campaigns or the Express of libel or defamation.

Uncaged Campaigns, 04 January 2001

 

Baboon
Credit: Organ Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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