May 2000

Uncaged Campaigns (UCL) received several hundred unsolicited photocopied documents (including correspondence) and a CD-ROM containing 39 study reports that had been produced for Imutran ("the documents"). The documents concerned the xenotransplantation research programme carried out by Imutran.

21 September 2000

On the basis of the documents and on the basis of information on the subject that was already in the public domain, UCL published on the internet a 150 page report entitled "Diaries of Despair" ("the Report"). The Report was written by Mr Lyons, was presented as a UCL publication and extensively quoted from the documents. Both the report and the documents (upon which it was based) were published on the Defendants website. The decision to add the documents to the website was made in order to substantiate the validity of the report's concerns.

21 and 22 September 2000

The Daily Express published articles referring to the work of Imutran (and HLS), to "secret papers" which revealed the true extent of suffering of animals involved in the xenotransplantation experiments and to the exaggerated claims made in the past by Imutran concerning the success of the experiments.

22 September 2000

UCL was contacted by Imutran's solicitors, Eversheds, and was informed that Imutran considered that the Defendants had, without prior authorisation, published confidential documentation which was Imutran's exclusive property which was covered by copyright.

22 September 2000

On the same day UCL's then solicitors, Simons, Muirhead & Burton, offered to meet Imutran's representatives with a view to reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement. Whilst these discussions were ongoing, Eversheds persuaded UCL's Internet Service Provider to shut down in the mistaken belief that this was the site on which Imutran's documentation had been published. In the light of Imutran's unilateral actions, UCL was happy to leave the full report and the Claimants' documents on pending a mutually satisfactory agreement between the parties which UCL continued to try to reach, or a court ruling.

26 September 2000

Mr Justice Hart granted an interim injunction against the Defendants (surprisingly, Imutran named Mr Lyons as a joint Defendant along with UCL), based on breach of confidence and breach of copyright. The injunctions prevented the Defendants from disseminating Imutran's documents to the general public.

10 October 2000

This injunction was extended by Mr Justice Ferris and again on the 18th of October by the Vice Chancellor Sir Andrew Morritt pending a full hearing. Morritt VC heard the matter on the 14th and 18th of December 2000.

17 October 2000

On legal advice, the Defendants offered to limit publication to the report and approximately 60 accompanying documents. Imutran responded with objections that the Defendants considered so extensive as to make further discussion futile. Accordingly, with the exception of individual names and addresses, the Defendants sought to publish all of the documents originally published and continued to contest the proceedings.

11 January 2001

Morritt VC extended the injunction to trial or further Order and granted leave to appeal against his judgment. The injunction that was extended included a proviso which permitted distribution of the documents to a group of "authorised recipients"- Government bodies and departments - to whom Imutran sought to limit dissemination. These recipients are the Animal Procedures Committee (APC), the Good Laboratory Practice Monitoring Authority (GLPMA), the UK Xenotransplantation Interim Regulation Authority (UKXIRA) and personnel at the Home Office having responsibility for regulating animal experimentation. Morritt's judgment appears to have completely ignored Defence evidence and witness statements, and was flatly mistaken on matters of fact regarding evidence of Home Office misconduct. Furthermore, his 'surprising' legal interpretations have since been contradicted. (1) Sir Andrew Morritt has two hobbies listed in "Who's Who": fishing and shooting. This perverse judgment proves to be a hindrance, but is eventually overcome...

10 April 2001

Novartis Pharma AG, Imutran parent company, join the action as a joint Claimant with Imutran. The Defendants become unrepresented as their solicitors come off the record.

June 2001

Dan Lyons applies to the Legal Service Commission (LSC) for legal aid, through solicitors Bindman & Partners. (Companies are ineligible.)

August 2001

A Case Management Conference (CMC) hearing at the High Court sets a pre-trial timetable, setting deadlines for responding to questions about the Defence case, exchanging lists of documents that each party would rely on in evidence at trial, and submitting copies of witness statements to be used at trial. Significantly, at the CMC, Dan Lyons (representing himself and Uncaged Campaigns) defeated an attempt by Imutran/Novartis and their solicitors to prevent the Defendants calling an Expert Witness to explain how the Home Office has connived with the company to break its own rules.

September 2001

Application to LSC refused. Review of refusal is requested.

October 2001

LSC review committee in Cambridge refuses to grant legal aid. Re-application sent to LSC head office.

20 December 2001

LSC refuse to grant funding once again, citing Morritt's judgment as evidence that Defendants' prospects of success was 'poor'. LSC recommends obtaining counsel's (i.e. from a barrister or QC) Opinion on prospects of successfully defending the case.

21 December 2001

Defendants serve a response to the "Request for Further Information about the Defence" which had been demanded by Imutran/Novartis. In this response we were required to explain in detail certain aspects of the Defence's legal arguments and list the documents which we believed demonstrated our case (these form the basis of the lists of documents provided above which we have now published.) Both parties have also had to compile a list of documents which are relevant to the case, whether they support or adversely affect their own position. We recognised that Imutran/Novartis' list was very thin, and saw the need to challenge them to disclose important, relevant documents that shed light on, for example, the suffering endured by the primates and the company's relationship with the Home Office. Imutran and Novartis claim that important documents - most of their press releases - were 'accidentally destroyed' because their PR firm sent them to the wrong department. We imagine this would be an unusual occurrence.

February 2002

Joint Opinion from two counsel advises that the prospects of success are better than evens, and also points out that the case raises significant human rights issues and serious matters of public interest. In Counsels' view, public funding (i.e. legal aid) should be granted. This Opinion is forwarded to the LSC for a review of their refusal to grant funding.

25 February 2002

Funding refused again by LSC.

March 2002

Bindmans write to LSC informing them of an intended court action (judicial review) against them on the grounds that their refusal to grant legal aid is unlawful, in that it effectively denies Mr Lyons a fair trial, among other reasons.

April 2002

LSC agrees that the prospects of success are higher than they previously acknowledged and places the application before its public interest advisory panel (PIAP).

11 July 2002

The PIAP reaches a unanimous decision that the case has a "significant wider public interest" and classed this as "high" - a rare categorisation. Bindman & Partners now go on the record for Mr Lyons following grant of public funding. (See Legal Aid Awarded.)

August 2002

Defendant's solicitors write to request disclosure of a large volume of documents by Imutran/Novartis, and charge them with failing to fulfil their duty to disclose documents to the Court. Claimants refuse and hearing date is set for November.

October 2002

Defendants receive second leak of documents, this time from Home Office. These comprise many of the same documents whose disclosure was requested by the Defendants. The Defendants feel that these documents reveal evidence that strengthens their case considerably, and feel aggrieved that, in their view, these documents were unjustifably withheld from them by Imutran/Novartis.

November 2002

Disclosure hearing postponed and trial date - 20 January 2003 - is 'vacated' (i.e. the trial is moved from that date).

April 2003

A new Court Order is made after Imutran/Novartis surrender and agree to allow the Defendants to publish over a thousand pages of documents including the Diaries of Despair report.


  1. E.g. London Regional Transport and London Underground Ltd v The Mayor of London and Transport for London [2001] EWCA Civ 1491.


Piglets in cage
Credit: Organ Farm


"The Home Office Inspector has on several occasions expressed his view that the Animal Procedures Committee licensing meeting will be merely a 'rubber-stamping' exercise."

Imutran report









"We have to work to make the Inspector look like a jolly good good bureaucrat and yet achieve our goals as well"

Imutran executive








Olive baboons (Papio anubis)
Credit: Gerald and Buff Corsi / CAS








"Usage and availability of baboons is being increasingly restricted worldwide: South Africa still represents a unique opportunity."

Novartis report









"... the transit crates did NOT comply with the regulations."

Imutran scientist








Baboon operation
Credit: Organ Farm









"There are no excuses that can be made for the failure of individuals to follow the operating procedures that have been set down to ensure the smooth conduct of studies."

HLS manager















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