The Diaries of Despair report and the documentation upon which it is based provide the public with an unprecedented and extensive insight into the reality of animal experimentation in modern Britain.

The aim of the report was to present all the information contained within the leaked Imutran documents that was relevant to the serious ethical, scientific and political concerns that arise. The length of the report - 150 pages - is testament to the weight of evidence contained in the documentation. Never before has so much secret information about animal experiments entered the public domain.

The report had been effectively banned for almost two and a half years as a result of the injunction obtained by Imutran and Novartis Pharma in late September 2000. Following the companies' withdrawal of their law suit, we are now in a position to publish the report in a complete form, except for identifying details about individuals and collaborating companies and institutions, and details of drugs. A slightly anomalous situation arises from the wording of the new injunction permitting publication: some of the information that has been blanked out is already in the public domain. For example, details of drug regimes appear in papers published by Imutran scientists in scientific journals, although we question the accuracy of Imutran's public statements. (See further reading.)

The Diaries of Despair report is the essential tool to enable interpretation of the Imutran documentation. Information of public interest that is derived from injuncted documents is retained and presented within the report. The reference numbers for such documents have been blocked out in the text or footnotes. The way in which the report was written means that it inevitably presents the public interest argument for its own existence and publication. The successful legal argument in defence of the report's publication is essentially the same as the argument for an independent judicial inquiry: the leaked documentation reveals horrific animal suffering, corrects Imutran's misleading public presentation of their research, and exposes wrongdoing on the part of Government.

The Diaries of Despair report is split into five parts. Part I sets the scene by describing the context of this programme of vivisection. Chapter 1 provides some background information about the multi-faceted controversial nature of xenotransplantation, an overview of the most salient points to emerge from the leaked documents, and the rationale behind the development of transgenic pigs as a potential source of xenografts. Chapter 2 presents the victims of this research, higher primates, to describe the suffering they endure. We also explain to the reader the legal framework, centred around the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which the Home Office must implement to regulate animal experimentation.

Parts II and III tell the story of the baboons and cynomolgus monkeys, from (in the case of the baboons) capture in the wild, through transportation half way across the world, to their deaths in the experiments themselves at Huntingdon Life Sciences. Part IV scrutinises the role of Huntingdon Life Sciences. Part V draws together the various themes to emerge from the leaked documents, to analyse whether this research programme has been correctly conducted and regulated. Finally, we offer our conclusions and recommendations.

The events that have unfolded since the original publication of Diaries of Despair merit a report in and of themselves:

  • the shabby and deceitful political manoeuvring of the Government
  • our successful battle to resist Imutran and Novartis' legal offensive
  • the second leak of documents from the Home Office in October 2002

The fallout from the Diaries of Despair is presented in the Government and Legal Battle sections.


Baboon in cage
Credit: Organ Farm


Day 1 "Slighty unsteady."

Day 4 "Quiet and huddled."

Day 15 "...reluctant to move."

Day 24 "...small hole in wound."

Day 35 "...huddled but not asleep."

Day 39 "Very subdued, reluctant to move even when stimulated. Died following collapse."



Pig operation
Credit: Organ Farm






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