All-party Commons Motion calls for inquiry into Government-licensed
Earlier today, MP's from across the political spectrum tabled a
Commons Motion calling for an independent inquiry into evidence
of Government misconduct which led to severe suffering for primates.
Early Day Motion 1340 also welcomes a historic
legal victory by animal protection group Uncaged which has enabled
the publication of over a thousand pages of leaked confidential
documents and the accompanying 'Diaries of Despair' report.
Uncaged defeated multi-billion pound company Novartis on the grounds
that the documents revealed horrific suffering in pig-to-primate
organ transplant experiments, and exposed Government collusion with
the company and a failure to enforce basic requirements of animal
research regulations. The experiments were conducted by Cambridge-based
Novartis subsidiary Imutran Ltd at the facilities of controversial
testing firm Huntingdon Life Sciences. To give just one example
of the appalling effects of the research, monkey V7 was observed:
"Grinding teeth... bloody urine... reluctant
to move... crouched in corner of cage, salivating and retching.
The leaked papers also reveal that statements given to Parliament
by Ministers were economical with the truth, and expose further
breaches of the law at Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). Uncaged's
victory also brings to light evidence that HLS did not meet the
requirements for a license to perform animal experiments, and will
intensify demands that the under-fire company be stripped of its
The motion will increase the pressure on the Government, coming
just days after the influential Commons Home Affairs Committee decided
to question the department about its conduct. Uncaged have been
especially critical of the decision by the then Home Secretary Jack
Straw to renege on a previous announcement by ordering an internal
review instead, despite the evidence of Home Office misconduct contained
in the secret papers. The recent publication of the leaked documents
has unmasked systematic inaccuracies in the Home Office report,
compiled by a senior civil servant who oversaw the original licensing
of the Imutran research. It has also emerged via a Parliamentary
Question that part of the research programme was personally authorised
by Home office Ministers, and Uncaged are deeply worried about the
acute conflict of interest.
Dan Lyons, who was a joint Defendant in the case,
"The documents and the Diaries of Despair report
reveal that the Government does not even enforce the most basic
legal constraints on animal experiments, and it is this profound
matter of public interest that played a crucial role in our victory
over Novartis. The Government has betrayed vulnerable, defenceless
animals and the rule of law under pressure from amoral commercial
interests. The records of the experiments strongly suggest that
animals were subjected to illegal severe suffering, and scientific
experts admit that the experiments led up a 'blind alley'. Yet the
Home Office continued to rubber-stamp Imutran's demands, literally
letting them get away with murder.
"No matter what one thinks about the the acceptability
of animal experiments, everyone should agree that the Government
should be investigated if it has failed to enforce the law - with
such harrowing consequences. We have a cast-iron case for an independent
inquiry, and just as we won our extraordinary legal battle against
all the odds, so we are determined to win this political battle."
Notes for editors
The text of EDM 1340, entitled "Uncaged Campaigns"
is as follows:
"That this House welcomes the historic legal
victory achieved by Uncaged Campaigns allowing publication, in the
public interest, of documents and a report describing Imutran/Novartis'
primate xenotransplantation research programme at Huntingdon Life
Sciences; notes that the evidence contained within these documents,
together with the fact of Uncaged Campaigns' victory, raises profound
questions about severe animal suffering and the adequacy of the
Home Office's enforcement of the Animals (Scientific Procedures)
Act 1986 and associated regulations; and calls upon the Government
to establish an independent inquiry to investigate fully the conduct
of the Home Office, Imutran and Huntingdon Life Sciences in relation
to this programme of research."
The motion is lead by the following MPs: Norman Baker (Lib Dem),
Colin Breed (Lib Dem), Tony Banks (Lab), Paul Flynn (Lab), Anne
Widdecombe (Con) and Simon Thomas (Plaid Cymru).
Uncaged Campaigns, 05 June 2003