Two-and-a-half year legal battle ends in victory for Uncaged Campaigns
Confidential documents to be disclosed on public interest grounds
breaks the news of an historic victory for Uncaged Campaigns following
a gruelling 30 month legal battle. The group and its director, Dan
Lyons, had been fighting the multi-billion pound drug giant Novartis
Pharma in a bid to overturn an injunction that had banned
publication of documents leaked from the pharmaceutical company,
many of which had first been published in September 2000.
Earlier this month, the High Court in London ratified an out-of-court
settlement that signified the collapse of Novartis' attempt to bury
the horrific scandal contained in the documents. The anti-vivisection
group has won the right to publish over a thousand pages of documents
that describe in unique detail harrowing experiments involving the
transplant of GM pig organs into five hundred higher primates. A
second leak of related documents, from the Home Office, are to be
included in the published dossier. Some of the research had been
personally approved by Home Office Ministers who later blocked an
inquiry into the affair.
The research was conducted by Cambridge-based biotech subsidiary
Imutran Ltd at the laboratories of Huntingdon
Life Sciences. Imutran, later bought by Novartis in 1996,
had hyped pig organs as an imminent solution to transplant waiting
lists. The secret documents reveal that the experiments were in
fact a blood-soaked disaster, causing severe suffering as scientists
failed to overcome the complex barriers to cross-species transplants.
The Defendants, who were forced to represent themselves for over
a year of the legal proceedings, consistently argued that there
was an overriding public interest in the disclosure of the confidential
papers because they demonstrated:
- severe animal suffering
- breaches of laws and regulations
- Government collusion and malpractice
- Inaccurate statements by Imutran
- Public health hazards
The scandalous conduct of the Government was a crucial aspect of
the Defence argument, as Imutran and Novartis had contended that
disclosure to the official regulatory bodies was sufficient. However,
Uncaged argue that it is essential that an independent inquiry be
established due to the compelling evidence of Government wrongdoing.
The Defendants' case has prevailed, proving the case for such
Today, Uncaged can finally publish the banned documents and Diaries
of Despair report, together with an extensive commentary, on their
website at www.xenodiaries.org.
Dan Lyons, director of Uncaged and co-Defendant
in procedures, comments:
"This has been a real David & Goliath struggle,
but we're overjoyed that we have at last secured a victory for freedom
of information and democracy. The public, media and politicians
will now be able to see the reality of animal experiments, a reality
that industry and the Government have fought so hard to conceal.
We're entering a new era in the debate about animal experiments
and we're confident that, now the truth is out, it will be much
more difficult for researchers to excuse such a cruel and futile
"We've been truly appalled by the dirty tricks
employed by Novartis and the Government in this battle. The hallmarks
of animal experiments are brutality, injustice and irrationality:
those features are common to the treatment of animals and the political
tactics of the vivisection industry and its supporters in Government.
We will now strive to achieve a thorough and independent inquiry
into these atrocities. We also call on those Ministers and officials
responsible for malpractice to carefully consider their positions."
Uncaged Campaigns, 20 April 2003