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Judicial Review shines light on Government negligence over animal 'protection' laws


HOME OFFICE IN DOCK OVER 'FAILURE' TO PREVENT ANIMAL SUFFERING

Judicial Review shines light on Government negligence over animal 'protection' laws

The Government will be forced to answer allegations that it ignores its legal duty to ensure animal suffering is kept to a minimum in UK labs, in a case to be heard by the High Court this week (Tues 24th July).

A High Court Judge will consider extensive evidence that the Government turns a blind eye to substantial suffering of animals in Home Office licensed experiments, and therefore misleads the public in its assurances that regulation of animal research UK is 'strict' and that 'animals don't suffer.'

The Judicial Review is based on extensive video and documentary evidence collected by the BUAV during a ten month undercover investigation of a Cambridge University neuroscience primate lab during 2000/2001.

The investigation revealed that marmoset monkeys were left unattended for 15 hours or more after undergoing highly invasive brain surgery -- sometimes with either no painkiller or just one dose of calpol to relieve the pain.

The BUAV is also questioning why the Home Office assigned a 'moderate' suffering banding to experiments which included highly invasive procedures such as removing of the top of marmoset's heads to induce strokes. The guidelines state that any procedure which 'may lead to a major departure from the animals' usual state of health and of well-being 'must be categorised as ' substantial', and undergo far stricter assessment to get licensed.

The BUAV was awarded a rare costs protection order by Mr Justice Bean last year to enable it to bring this case in the public interest after the Home Office projected its defence costs would amount to up to 150,000-pounds (see notes to editor).

'These findings entirely undermine the credibility of the Government's defence of animal research in the UK -- namely that it is strictly regulated and that animals don't really suffer,'said BUAV chief executive Michelle Thew.

'This case demonstrates the Government rides roughshod over the public's trust in this matter. The Government refuses to be held to account on this issue - it routinely rejects FOI requests about animal experiments out of hand.

'It is the sad fact that the public's only real access to information about the reality of animal experiments is via undercover investigations by a not for profit organisation. Furthermore, it is entirely unacceptable that a democratic government is not held to account on activities funded by taxpayers 'the vast majority of whom are opposed to animal suffering in laboratories' (see notes to editor).

Ends

NOTES TO EDITOR

Photos and footage from the BUAV's undercover investigation at Cambridge University are available on request A Costs Protection Order is a discretionary measure the courts have in order to ensure cases against public institutions can be brought in the public interest by individuals or groups that would otherwise be unable to take the risk of having to pay compensate the institution for their legal costs if their case is unsuccessful.

76% of the British public think the Government should, as a matter of principle, prohibit experiments on any live animals which cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm in a TNS national opinion poll commissioned by the BUAV in 2003

The BUAV has been campaigning for over 100 years to achieve a world where nobody wants or believes we need to experiment on animals. We are committed to achieving our aims through reliable and reasoned evidence-based debate. We are proudly non-violent and respect the quality of life for all -- animals and people.

For more information contact: Media Manager Mary-Louise Harding 020 7619

6978/Out of hours mobile: 07850 510 955 /mary-louise.harding@buav.org
 

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