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SHOOTING JUDGE RULES AGAINST VIVISECTION OPENNESS
Posted 1 March 2001
There has been a depressing development in the legal battle over a huge cache of leaked company documents that tell the ugly truth about animal-based organ transplantation experiments conducted at Huntingdon Life Sciences.
Uncaged Campaigns had been hoping for a court ruling that the documents - and the group's detailed report based on them - could be openly published. But in a January 11 decision in the High Court, Lord Justice Andrew Morritt made a temporary gagging order permanent. Morritt - an old Etonian and Garrick Club member, who lists shooting and fishing as his recreations - did, however, give Uncaged leave to appeal and said that any decision on the payment of potentially crippling legal costs should be reserved for the judge presiding over a full trial, should matters reach that stage.
Uncaged have declared their 'extreme shock and disappointment' at the decision and are considering their options.
The cache of papers - leaked from the offices of the Cambridge biotech company, Imutran - describes how thousands of pigs and hundreds of monkeys have been sacrificed during experiments commissioned by Imutran and carried out by the notorious Huntingdon Life Sciences. The declared purpose of the tests was to find a way of preventing genetically engineered pig hearts and kidneys from being rejected when transplanted into human beings.
Prior to the High Court decision, Home Office Minister Mike O'Brien not only refused a demand by Uncaged - backed by dozens of MPs and public figures - for an independent inquiry, he refused even a special Home Office investigation, opting instead to mount a 'routine assessment' by the H.O. Inspectorate.
Animal Aid's Andrew Tyler had accompanied Uncaged director Dan Lyons when he met the Minister in November. Andrew was also asked to give a detailed witness statement for the High Court hearing.
The battle began September 21, when the Daily Express ran a powerful two page article based on the thousands of leaked pages. Later the same day, Uncaged published on the internet (see www.xenodiaries.org) the whole secret cache as well as its 150-page report.
The leaked papers, the Express reported, detail unimaginable suffering. The researchers' own words describe blood and pus seeping from monkeys' wounds and animals are described as being in spasm, vomiting, shivering, suffering diarrhoea and huddling in their cages. The article also revealed that Imutran is failing to solve the critical problem of organ rejection, despite public statements to the contrary. On average, a baboon was surviving just seven days with a transplanted pig heart; while more than a quarter of monkeys die on the operating table or within days of the experimental surgery.
The campaign for an independent inquiry continues, with support from celebrities such as Peter Gabriel, Bruce Forsyth, Benjamin Zephaniah, Vernon Coleman, Alexei Sayle, Chrissie Hynde, Hayley Mills, Julian Clary, Annie Lennox, and Joanna Lumley.
- Contact Uncaged Campaigns to find out how you can help: 14 Ridgeway Road, Sheffield S12 2SS. www.uncaged.co.uk.
- Read the Daily Express articles for important background.
- Write to Home Office Minister Mike O'Brien and repeat the demands detailed above: Home Office, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AT.
- Write also to the Animal Procedures Committee and demand that they act as independent and objective agents in this affair rather than doing the bidding of the Home Office. Room 978, same address as for the Home Office.
- Write to your own MP.
- Check out Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty for other developments. PO Box 381, Cheltenham, Glos, GL50 1YN. Tel 0121 632 6460. www.shac.net.