Protest will mark first anniversary of report revealing extreme
cruelty and Government contempt for regulations
On Friday 21st September, hundreds of demonstrators will gather
in Central London to call for an independent judicial inquiry to
investigate evidence of severe cruelty and systematic flouting of
The protest will gather at Trafalgar Square at 12.00pm with speakers
including Dr Caroline Lucas (Green Party MEP for South East England)
at 12.30pm. The march will set off at 1pm down Whitehall. Protest
petitions containing 150,000 signatures will be submitted to 10
Downing Street. The march will finish outside the Home Office at
50 Queen Anne's Gate. The climax of the protest will be a mass 'die-in'
with hundreds of protesters wearing primate costumes and masks 'dying'
in the road outside the Home Office - representing the hundreds
of primates sentenced to a torturous death by successive Home Secretaries.
The campaign was sparked by an enormous leak of information from
Imutran Ltd, a Cambridge-based biotech subsidiary of Novartis Pharma
that was spearheading research into pig organ transplants at controversial
contract lab Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). Thousands of pages
of internal documents described the traumatic effects of the research
on hundreds of higher primates. The documents also brought into
question the accuracy of published studies and revealed deliberate
Government cover-ups of mistakes and breaches of legal requirements
committed by Imutran and HLS.
Transgenic pig hearts and kidneys were stitched into the necks,
chests and abdomens of five hundred wild-caught baboons and macaque
monkeys at the Huntingdon centre between 1994 and 2000. Despite
enormous doses of immunosuppressants, all the higher primates -
related to human beings - died from surgical failures, organ failure,
the toxic effects of the drugs and infections. Government advisors
now admit that the research was a "blind alley" and that
pig organ transplants are unlikely to ever prove viable.
Anti-vivisection group Uncaged Campaigns published the leaked documents
together with the extensive Diaries of Despair report on 21 September
2000, coinciding with an award-winning exclusive in the Daily Express.
Five days after the dramatic revelations, Novartis Pharma announced
the termination of Imutran's UK research. Within a week, Imutran
had obtained a High Court injunction temporarily banning Diaries
of Despair and the embarrassing documentary evidence on grounds
of breach of confidentiality and copyright.
Uncaged Campaigns and Dan Lyons, author of Diaries of Despair are
continuing the legal battle to overturn the injunction on public
interest and freedom of speech grounds.
For further information and interviews, contact Dan
Lyons on 0114 2831155 or 07799 117694.
NOTES / FAQs
1. What is the background of Uncaged Campaigns and Dan Lyons?
Uncaged Campaigns is a Sheffield-based pressure group focussing
on the issue of animal experimentation. They have been leading the
campaign against animal-to-human organ transplants on ethical and
public health grounds in the UK. The organisation works peacefully
and democratically. Uncaged Campaigns has achieved the two biggest
exposés of animal research in the last year - the Diaries
of Despair and cruel and lethal research performed on cats and dogs
by the Iams pet food company.
Dan Lyons is a graduate and PhD researcher from the University
of Sheffield and specialises in bioethics and politics. He has appeared
in several national media discussing the issue of animal-to-human
transplants, including the Carlton TV film "Organ Farm"
broadcast this June and is a highly respected commentator on this
2. Why was the report called 'Diaries of Despair'?
The documents included twice daily observations of the primates
recorded by researchers at the Huntingdon testing centre. The Express
articles, which are legally in the public domain, report that animals
were seen "quiet", "huddled", "shivering",
"unsteady", "in spasm", "swollen",
"bruised", "vomiting", "diarrhoea",
"shaking", "grinding teeth." One baboon which
had a pig heart attached to the vessels in his neck was seen holding
the transplant which was "swollen red" and "seeping
yellow fluid" for several days before he died. Cancer and internal
bleeding was also observed. This is only a tiny snapshot of the
entire catalogue of suffering.
3. What else is happening in the Diaries of Despair campaign?
Because of the overwhelming evidence of Government wrongdoing and
failure (in addition to Imutran and HLS's culpability), the primary
goal is for the establishment of an independent judicial inquiry.
The Government has refused - without explanation - to initiate such
an inquiry. The Government has even treated a legally enshrined
expert advisory committee (the Animal Procedures Committee (APC))
with contempt: refusing to answer the APC's questions about the
inadequate Government response, and there is evidence that the Government
attempted to withhold the primary evidence - the leaked documents
- from the APC. The Government tried to sweep the matter under the
carpet with an internal report which was published in July. But
the report transparently lacked independence and its findings were
embarrassingly incoherent. The APC is now beginning to launch its
own investigation, but it is vulnerable to Home Office interference.
The Government is compounding its problems with an approach that
continues to be dishonest and disreputable.
The RSPCA downloaded the documents and has compiled its own report,
which is expected to be published later this autumn. We anticipate
that the RSPCA report will also be highly critical of the Government's
Despite having no financial backing, Uncaged Campaigns and Dan
Lyons have continued to defend themselves in the action brought
by Imutran and Novartis for breach of confidentiality and copyright.
They hope to overturn the injunction at a trial scheduled to take
place next summer.
An Early Day Motion will be retabled this autumn, and the case
will be presented to MPs.
4. What are the main regulatory failures revealed by Diaries
Both British and European law ban "severe" suffering.
There is strong evidence that many of the primates suffered severely,
and that this was inevitable given the nature of the research and
Imutran's desire to keep the primates alive as long as possible
in order to gain maximum information about rejection processes.
One of the main features of the regulatory system is a so-called
cost-benefit assessment of proposed vivisection programmes. Diaries
of Despair demonstrates that the Government gives no consideration
to the suffering that animal will endure while placing utmost weight
on the desires of the researchers.
There is further evidence of Government connivance with researchers
to evade regulatory requirements and conceal illegal acts from the
public and Parliament.
5. Why does the Government refuse to enforce regulations on
The primary reason is the economic power wielded by the chemical
and pharmaceutical industry, which is the predominant user of animals
and main advocate for vivisection. The industry has explicitly threatened
the Government with economic blackmail: investing and employing
abroad if it is inconvenienced by regulations on animal research.
The chemical/pharmaceutical industry has a value system and set
of priorities that differs both from normal people and the letter
and spirit of the law. The industry's ultimate goal is the maximisation
of profits, which (to say the least) does not necessarily coincide
with real and unique benefits for human beings - animals are treated
simply as a means to the commercial end. The Government, unfortunately,
has no principled position on the welfare of animals and is prepared
to essentially bypass regulatory requirements in order to appease
the short-term demands of industry. The net result is that the Government
fails to respect the rule of law, leading to greater animal suffering.
The rather callous attitude of many in the scientific community
is another major stumbling block. Scientists who experiment on animals
cannot bear to acknowledge the 'costs' they inflict on animals.
They resent any ethical limits on their activities such as those
promised by existing regulation, and display narrow tunnel vision:
focussing solely on extracting biological information and ignoring
the wider ethical and scientific issues that arise from vivisection.
The private views of many scientists would be repugnant to members
of the public with a realistic and objective viewpoint.
The Government execution of the Animals (Scientific Procedures)
Act 1986 reflects the distorted and extreme values and priorities
of these powerful lobby groups.
Uncaged Campaigns, 18 September 2001