Uncaged Campaigns, campaigning against vivisection  
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news release

Diaries of Despair campaign and legal update

Diaries of Despair Protests
20 & 21 September 2002

Later this year, Saturday 21 September, will mark the second anniversary of our publication of the still-injuncted Diaries of Despair report into Imutran's pig-to-primate organ transplant experiments at Huntingdon Life Sciences.

You'll be well aware that the principle aim of the campaign at this stage is a call for an independent judicial inquiry to investigate the Home Office's wrongdoing as revealed by the documents:

  • inaccurate public and Parliamentary statements designed to protect Imutran and HLS,
  • miscategorisation of extremely cruel experiments in order to make it easier to license them,
  • failure to conduct an adequate cost-benefit assessment (as required by legislation - ignoring the severe suffering endured by animals and simultaneously accepting without question the false potential benefits claimed by Imutran for their research).

For more details about the campaign, please see www.xenodiaries.org.

Basically, the Government bends and breaks legislation to allow pointless cruelty to animals that not even the current regulatory framework should permit. The recent BUAV revelations at Cambridge University revealed similar Government outrages.

It's absolutely crucial to appreciate that the Imutran documents hold the promise of the biggest shake-up of vivisection - and Government policy that promotes it - at least since the passing of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The extent of the Government's unjustified support for HLS is one of the most politically-controversial revelations within the documentation. The legal battle Uncaged Campaigns and myself are fighting has the potential to expose evidence that could finally result in the closure of HLS.

Regarding this autumn's event, our provisional plan is:

  1. To submit our petition to 10 Downing Street on the day before (at approximately lunchtime). We shall also be contacting MPs and celebrities to invite them to participate in the handing in of the petition. Please join our lobby on Whitehall opposite Downing Street. We are expecting extensive media coverage and so a large turnout will help maximise the pressure on the Government. We'll have costumes, face masks, banners, placards etc. for the event.
  2. The protest itself. The provisional arrangements are:
    Assemble at Temple Place, Victoria Embankment at 12 noon.
    Speeches commence at 12.45pm.
    March sets off at 1.30pm.
    Arrive at Home Office at approximately 2.30pm, where die-in will take place (protesters will be in monkey costumes/masks.
    Remain outside Home Office for one hour, finishing with wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the 500 primates sacrificed by Imutran at HLS.

Legal update

The legal proceedings brought against myself and Uncaged Campaigns by Imutran & Novartis Pharma are still ongoing. (Contrary to a mistaken sentence in Dr Ho's review of George Monbiot's "Captive State" book, circulated by EFMA and VIN, no trial has taken place in these proceedings, the current injunction is only temporary at the moment.)

The argument in favour of an independent judicial inquiry is very similar to central aspects of our Defence in the legal proceedings brought against us by Imutran and Novartis Pharma as they seek a permanent injunction preventing us from publishing the report and documentation. We have contested the proceedings for twenty months now, mostly without legal representation. That situation appears likely to change soon for significant reasons.

After an arduous application process lasting almost a year, the Legal Services Commission have recommended to the Lord Chancellor's Department that I receive legal aid on the basis that we have a good chance of success and the case raises public interest issues which are of particularly high significance. The good chance of success is based partly on the strength of evidence of Home Office culpability referred to above. (Indeed, we would not have published the documents in the first place, called for an independent judicial inquiry and contested the legal proceedings despite the threat of personal bankruptcy and enormous resource disadvantage were it not for the strength of our case.)

The particular legal impact of this issue is that because the leaked documentation shows evidence of Home Office wrongdoing, it cannot be satisfactory to limit disclosure to the Home Office - independent, public scrutiny is required. Furthermore, none of the other current "Authorised Recipients" of the injuncted material (e.g. the APC) has the power or independence to justify limited disclosure rather than public disclosure. Ironically, the Home Office's conduct since the exposé, in particular the refusal to agree to an independent investigation, has strengthened our case.

The RSPCA's own report on this affair is likely to be published in the near future - the RSPCA has already echoed our call for an independent judicial inquiry.

I'm sure you can appreciate that the last twenty months have been pretty horrendous both for myself and for Uncaged Campaigns as we have tried to contest the proceedings as litigants in person against a very powerful and ruthless company. Hopefully, the battle will eventually have been well worth it when we can publish the leaked documents or a selection of them, and Uncaged Campaigns and I can avoid bankruptcy!

Help build the campaign

Financial support

All the work we have done so far has been on a shoestring budget and our finances are on a knife-edge. The legal proceedings in particular have placed an enormous strain on us. I cannot emphasise too much how much we need committed, persistent funding in order to fund the committed, persistent and effective work that we do. We can accept donations on the telephone via VISA or Mastercard. Alternatively, there is a donation/standing order form available to print off here (PDF).

Petition, information leaflet and postcard campaign

This summer, please be active in the Diaries of Despair campaign in your local area. We have a free campaign pack available for local activists, perfect for using on stalls.

Please help us to collect as many signatures as possible on our Diaries of Despair petition that will be submitted to 10 Downing Street on Friday 20 September. The petitions need to be returned to us by 10 September.

Also available from us are information leaflets and campaign postcards to accompany this campaign, plus flyers and posters advertising the Diaries of Despair protest on 21 September 2002. All these resources will be available as a pack from us.

We are making an exception to our usual policy regarding making contributions to the costs of producing materials. Because we have a fairly large stock of the leaflets and postcards that may need updating soon, we are offering the campaign pack FREE. However, we do of course appreciate, and are desperate for, donations towards the cost of these materials and the campaign generally. To give you an idea of costs involved: The p&p for each campaign pack costs £5. The materials themselves cost at least a further £10 per pack.

To order your Diaries of Despair campaign pack, please telephone, write or email us with your name, contact details, and local group affiliation (if applicable).

House of Commons Early Day Motion (EDM) 516 "Imutran Ltd"

Thank you to all of you who have written to your MPs asking them to sign this EDM, which calls upon the Government to establish an independent judicial inquiry into the Diaries of Despair scandal. To date, 93 MPs have signed the EDM now, which is an excellent response, but it would be a great psychological boost to the campaign if we could reach the century before this Parliamentary session finishes.

Please take ten minutes to visit www.xenodiaries.org/edmhelp.htm for a link to a list of MPs who have already signed, a sample letter to send to your MP, to find out who your MP is, and even how to email them directly. Many supporters who have written have inspired their MP to sign, so there is a really good chance of a positive outcome. Even if your MP does not sign, the correspondence is important to keep the issue fresh in their minds and build the pressure.

Thank you for all your support for this historic campaign for the anti-vivisection movement.

Related links:

Dan Lyons, Uncaged Campaigns 13.06.02


Uncaged 1993-2012: This is the archived website of Uncaged. All information correct at the time of archiving - November 2012.