Philosophy of AR > Animal Testing - Index > Anti-Vivisection Index
Activists win ruling on laboratory animals
By Clive Cookson and Nikki Tait
July 28 2007
Campaigners won a partial victory on Friday in their legal battle to force the government to tighten its regulation of animal research.
A High Court judge ruled that the Home Office had failed in its legal duty to minimise the suffering experienced by animals during experiments.
If upheld, the Home Office could be forced to change the way it classifies the suffering of animals during research.
The action was brought by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, which presented video and documentary evidence collected during a 10-month undercover investigation of a Cambridge neuroscience laboratory during 2000-2001.
Mr Justice Mitting ruled that the Home Office had acted unlawfully in licensing invasive brain experiments on marmoset monkeys at Cambridge University as involving "moderate" rather than "substantial" suffering.
Michelle Thew, chief executive of BUAV, said: "We have proven that the government misleads the public and parliament about the severity of animal experiments licensed in the UK. The government can no longer pretend it has the strictest regulation of animal experiments in the world."
Mr Justice Mitting said in court that the Home Office had relied on expert advice that understated the extent of the "pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm" that could be caused to the monkeys in Cambridge.
At the heart of the judicial review is the Home Office system of categorising each animal procedure in advance as mild, moderate, substantial or unclassified. This is based on the likely experience of an "average" animal in the experiment.
Prof Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, called the ruling "very worrying" and said it risked undermining "an objective system of reporting animal suffering" based on professional judgments.