Lab animals 'may have suffered'
A laboratory infiltrated by animal welfare campaigners may have allowed animals
in its care to suffer unnecessarily, according to a Home Office report.
Lab animals 'may have suffered' Enlarge photo
Wickham Laboratories in Hampshire was found guilty of "a number of potential
breaches" of its licence conditions.
The issue came to light after the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection
(BUAV) placed an undercover worker in the laboratory for eight months. Her
secretly filmed footage was said to have documented "appalling suffering
inflicted on thousands of animals".
As a result, an investigation was launched by the Home Office Inspectorate
responsible for monitoring animal testing.
A Government statement said most of the concerns raised by the BUAV had not been
substantiated. However, the report had identified "a number of potential
breaches of the conditions of Wickham Laboratories' certificate of designation
and of one project licence." Action to deal with these shortcomings was "now in
hand", it said.
The BUAV maintained that mice at the laboratory routinely died in "cruel
poisoning tests" involving a product containing botulinum toxin. Rabbits also
suffered by being restrained in stocks for many hours at a time while they
underwent tests, said the group.
BUAV chief executive Michelle Thew said: "We are pleased that the Home Office
has substantiated many of the BUAV's findings, some of which echo our previous
investigation of this establishment. We are very disappointed, however, that an
opportunity to properly enforce non-animal methods has been missed."
Wickham Laboratories welcomed the Home Office report, pointing out that it had
found no evidence of the testing of cosmetic products or ingredients. Animal
testing for cosmetics is banned in the UK.
The company accepted the report's finding that animals may have suffered
unnecessarily as a result of tests continuing for too long. It also accepted
that the way mice were killed was "inconsistent" and "at times incompetent".
Chris Bishop, head of animal welfare at the laboratory, said: "Wickham Labs is
granted licences by the Home Office to use animals because of the vital
importance of ensuring that products are safe for the public and for patients.
We have taken seriously the issues raised in this report. Over the last year, we
have improved our practices and we constantly strive to improve the care of our