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:
- Dr Gill Langley, scientist and member of the Government's
expert advisory committee on animal experiments, the Animals
- Professor Peter Singer, a philosophy and ethics specialist
at Princeton University.
- 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
- Norman Baker MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson on animal welfare.
Uncaged Campaigns, 04 January 2001