Government animal cruelty report "dishonest" and "inaccurate"
The Government's response to a damning exposé of animal
experimentation is condemned as "dishonest" and "inaccurate"
by the author of the exposé. Today, a key advisory committee
meets to discuss the impact of the revelations as criticism of the
Home Office mounts.
In spring 2000, thousands of pages of internal documents were leaked
from IMUTRAN LTD., describing the Cambridge-based biotech company's
experimental pig-to-primate organ transplant research at HUNTINGDON
LIFE SCIENCES. The documents included harrowing records of animal
suffering, shoddy research practice, a lack of progress in developing
pig organs for transplant.
Perhaps most significantly, the documents revealed that Government
ministers had failed to ensure that welfare regulations were adhered
to and had given misleading statements in Parliament that had obscured
mistakes and failures in the research programme.
The documentation was leaked to anti-vivisection group Uncaged
Campaigns, whose director, Dan Lyons, compiled a 150 page report
to tell the story of the documents. The report was entitled Diaries
of Despair, referring to the logs that animal technicians kept describing
the condition of the dying primates.
The Home Secretary refused, without explanation, to implement an
independent judicial inquiry, which is required in instances of
Government wrongdoing. Instead, the Home Office has continued its
biased policy in its response to the Diaries of Despair report.
Despite compelling evidence of Home Office wrongdoing, the Home
Secretary ordered an internal inquiry to examine a small portion
of the concerns raised in Diaries of Despair. The official advisory
Animal Procedures Committee (APC) explicitly expressed its "surprise"
at this narrow, compromised approach and wrote to the Minister twice
to ask why a more independent inquiry was not initiated. The Minister
stonewalled. The APC has resolved to write for a third time.
Dan Lyons comments:
"The outcome of the Home Office internal inquiry
is a report that is even more incoherent and unreliable than we
expected. The Chief Inspector's review is a blatant attempt to cover-up
wrongdoing and unfairly discredit the Diaries of Despair report.
On several occasions the review explicitly distorts the facts: it
is breathtaking in its brazen dishonesty and inaccuracy."
The APC will discuss the issue at its meeting today.
Dan Lyons remarks:
"The irony is that the Home Office and the Inspectorate
are digging a deeper hole for themselves by pursuing such an extreme
and disreputable policy. It's hard to see how the Chief Inspector
can continue in his post given the shoddiness of his review. By
insulting the intelligence of its own advisory committee, the Home
Office is managing to alienate broad swathes of opinion, not just
committed anti-vivisectionists. The pressure is building on the
Government to establish an independent judicial inquiry."
Notes for editors
Relevant minutes of APC meetings can be found at: www.apc.gov.uk/reference/dec00.htm
(Item 9); www.apc.gov.uk/reference/feb01.htm
(item 6); www.apc.gov.uk/reference/may01.htm
The Chief Inspector's Report into Imutran Ltd. can be found
in pdf format via: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs/imutranreport.pdf.
Dan Lyons' response is available
online here. This is a public version of the response, with
references to injuncted information excised while a temporary
injunction, granted to Imutran and its parent company Novartis
Pharma AG, prevents publication of Imutran's confidential information.
A trial is scheduled to take place on June 17 2002 as Uncaged
Campaigns and Dan Lyons attempt to overturn the injunction on
public interest grounds. The current injunction means that the
Diaries of Despair report is banned at the present time.
Uncaged Campaigns have written again to Home Office minister
Angela Eagle MP to complain about inaccuracies in the Chief
Inspector's report and suggest that the Chief Inspector has
made his position untenable.
Uncaged Campaigns, 10 October 2001