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News Archive

3rd International Animal Rights Day: 10th December 2000

This was the third year of candle-lit vigils at sites of animal abuse, held to commemorate International Animal Rights Day (IARD). These vigils also commemorate the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights (UDAR), which was launched 3 years ago on the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 (UDHR). Uncaged Campaigns joined forces with Cambridge group Animals People and Environment (APE) to hold a candle-lit vigil outside the main offices of Imutran. More.

Injunction Update

The High Court hearing (see below) will carry over on Monday 18th December at 10.45am. The Vice Chancellor has agreed with an Imutran appeal that the hearing should not be open to the public.

Straw Vetoes Inquiry into Horrific Primate Suffering - High Court Hearing will put Home Office on Trial

In an extraordinary announcement, the Home Secretary has refused to investigate a research programme involving the horrific suffering and deaths of hundreds of higher primates. The research into cross-species transplant experiments also involved breaches of the law and was littered with hundreds of errors, some of which had painful and lethal consequences for the monkeys concerned.

Imutran Ltd, the Cambridge-based biotech subsidiary of the multinational drug company Novartis, was responsible for the research programme. On Thursday 14th December (commencing 2.00pm) Imutran will attempt to obtain an injunction against anti-cruelty group Uncaged Campaigns and the organisation's Director, Dan Lyons, at the High Court in London to prevent the evidence from being placed in the public domain.

Several thousand pages of documents leaked to Uncaged Campaigns from Imutran in spring were reported on by the Daily Express on September 21. They reveal starkly how monkeys and wild-caught baboons had been observed shivering, unsteady, in spasm, swollen, bruised and with blood and pus seeping from wounds after Imutran scientists had transplanted transgenic pig hearts and kidneys into the primates. In one of the most grotesque studies, one monkey which had a pig heart transplanted into its neck was seen holding the transplant which was "swollen red" and "seeping yellow fluid" in its final days. The experiments were performed at controversial testing company Huntingdon Life Sciences, who were responsible for many of the errors in the conduct of the research.

The episode highlights the cosy relationship between Home Office Inspectors - charged with regulating animal research - and the establishments they are supposed to regulate. These experiments were conducted with the blessing and support of the Home Office, despite a legal ban on "severe" suffering (1). Breaches in laws and regulations went unpunished even when they lead to the suffering and death of animals.

After the story was revealed in the Daily Express and by Uncaged Campaigns on 21 September, the Junior Home Office Minister Mike O'Brien announced that allegations of wrongdoing in animal research would be investigated by the Home Office Inspectorate, and overseen by the advisory Animal Procedures Committee (2).

However, in a quite breathtaking move, a subsequent announcement by Home Secretary Jack Straw has quashed the inquiry (3).

Dan Lyons, author of the 150 page Diaries of Despair report based on the documents, comments:

"This is the most deplorable and desperate reaction I have witnessed from this Government. It is clearly a last-ditch attempt to keep a lid on what will inevitably be an embarrassing episode for the Home Office.

"The Home Office appears to be content for companies involved in vivisection to break the law and inflict horrific suffering on animals - and is committed to protecting them from justice. This is a scandal of profound significance."

The injunction hearing will effectively put the Home Office on trial. One of the central arguments for the Defence is that there is a clear public interest in the facts about this research being widely known because, among other reasons, there is evidence that:

  • The Home Office has failed to regulate the research properly because of its indulgent attitude to the researchers and corresponding disregard for animal welfare, in contravention of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.
  • Imutran's experiments caused severe suffering, which is illegal (4).
  • Imutran have distorted the truth in their public statements about the success of the research and the welfare of the primates.

Dan Lyons comments:

"The stakes in the case could not be higher. Apart from being a test case for freedom of expression under the new Human Rights Act, the Home Office is effectively on trial. We have a very strong case and, if the judgement is favourable to us, it will send a clear message to the Government that it can no longer bend the rules and flout the law in favour of powerful commercial interests. By publishing the documents, we have merely sought to stimulate public debate and try to ensure that the Home Office gives the interests of animals the consideration that the law and the public demands."


  1. Paragraph 5.42 of the Guidance on the Operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 states: "The Secretary of State will not license any procedure likely to cause severe pain and distress that cannot be alleviated." Article 8 of European Directive 86/609 stipulates: "If anaesthesia is not possible, analgesics or other appropriate methods should be used in order to ensure as far as possible that pain, suffering and distress or harm are limited and that in any event the animal is not subject to severe pain, distress or suffering."
  2. Written Answers, Wednesday 1 November 2000, in reply to question tabled by Eileen Gordon (Romford)
  3. Written Answers, Wednesday 29 November 2000, in reply to question tabled by Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey). Letter from Mike O'Brien MP to Dan Lyons, 29 November 2000.
  4. See Note 1.

For further information, interviews and confirmation of the court hearing time please contact Dan Lyons - 0114 2831155 / 07733 326068. Home Office correspondence and more background information are available on our dedicated website at www.xenodiaries.org.

Uncaged Campaigns 12.12.00

3rd International Animal Rights Day

On 10 December, International Animal Rights Day (IARD), protesters against animal cruelty around the world will be holding candlelit vigils outside establishments responsible for causing suffering to animals. The protesters will be remembering the animals who have suffered and died at the hands of these establishments.

The idea was the brainchild of Sheffield-based animal rights organisation Uncaged Campaigns, who have recently hit the headlines in the Daily Express with their shocking revelations of British pig-to-primate organ transplant experiments (see www.xenodiaries.org). The date, 10 December, coincides with the anniversary of the United Nations' endorsement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights back in 1948. The campaign was launched on the 50th anniversary of the human rights declaration, and aims to achieve international recognition of animal rights within another 50 years

Stars such as Joanna Lumley, Spike Milligan and top barrister Michael Mansfield QC have signed the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights (copy to follow) which is the basis of the campaign. The declaration has also been endorsed by 32 different animal protection societies from 19 countries

Dan Lyons, director of Uncaged Campaigns, explains the reasons behind the campaign:

"We want people to recognise that all animals, not just humans, deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. In order to protect the welfare of animals, we must respect their right not be hurt and killed by human beings who should know better. The world believes in human rights because we are capable of feeling physical and emotional pain, and because we have a will to live. But all animals share these features, and so, logically, we should honour their rights."

Uncaged Campaigns will be holding a vigil between 4pm and 7pm on Sunday 10th December outside Imutran (Maris Lane, Trumpington, Cambridge), the company responsible for conducting the pig-to-primate organ transplant experiments featured in the Daily Express. As the paper reports, baboons and monkeys were observed "Huddled, shivering, unsteady, in spasm, vomiting and suffering from diarrhoea. Some have blood or pus seeping from wounds." Four days after the suffering of Imutran's victims was exposed by Uncaged Campaigns and the Express, the closure of the company was announced by its parent company Novartis, who will now be conducting the horrific experiments in the US and Canada rather than Britain. Imutran Ltd. will cease trading on 31 December 2000.

Diaries of Despair

Imutran versus Uncaged Campaigns and Dan Lyons - case adjourned again

On Wednesday 18 October 2000 the case was adjourned again because Imutran’s legal team claimed that they required more time to consider a proposal we have made. Although we opposed the application for an adjournement, it was successful and, consequentially, the full hearing has been delayed and now will not take place until the end of November due to prior commitments of the counsels for each party and the Vice Chancellor (the senior judge of the Chancery Division of the High Court). The case is being heard by Lord Morritt. Lord Morritt is Richard Scott, who conducted the ‘Arms to Iraq’ enquiry in the 1990’s. A precise date for the hearing has yet to be set. Unfortunately, this means that Imutran’s injunction suppressing the dissemination of our campaign leaflet and the ‘Diaries of Despair’ report remains in place until the dispute is settled in or out of court.

Imutran costs claim rejected

At yesterday’s hearing, Imutran also attempted to force us to pay ‘several thousands of pounds’ (the words of their counsel) of Imutran’s legal costs, which they claim total over £81,000. Imutran is a part of Novartis, the Swiss-based multinational pharmaceutical company whose sales last year totalled £12.6 billion. Imutran’s manoeuvre would have resulted in the bankruptcy of both Uncaged Campaigns and Dan Lyons, author of the Diaries of Despair report. This in turn would have potentially stopped us from being able to defend ourselves in a full hearing where our case could be presented. However, the judge would not rule on Imutran’s costs claim, ensuring that the issue of costs can be settled at the proper time, after the case has been fully heard.

Despite the intense and intimidating legal attack launched by Imutran against us, we are determined to stand firm in order to allow an informed and open public debate about the suffering that Imutran have inflicted on hundreds on higher primates in their pig-to-primate organ transplant research at Huntingdon Life Sciences over the past six years.

This follows the hearing on Tues. 10th October, when the judge decided that he was too busy to deal with the matter in the time allotted.

Uncaged Campaigns and Dan Lyons are the defendants in a claim brought by Imutran, a subsidiary of the multinational drug firm Novartis, which aims to prevent the dissemination of leaked confidential documents which detail the company’s pig-to-primate organ transplant (xenotransplantation) experiments (see below). Imutran contracted the controversial commercial testing laboratory Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) to conduct the research between 1995 and earlier this year.

Uncaged Campaigns published the leaked documents in order to allow verification of the claims made in the report and facilitate informed public debate. Our central aim is to persuade the Government to set up an independent judicial enquiry into the affair. 

Imutran have attempted to suppress dissemination of the report and the documents, claiming breach of confidentiality and copyright. Our defence is that there is a clear public interest in the true facts of this research programme being available for public discussion, especially given the doubts over the Home Office’s ability and political will to enforce animal research regulation adequately.

As an editorial discussing secrecy in science earlier this year in the New Scientist pointed out: “Openness is the only way forward.” 


On Thursday 21st September the Daily Express ran the first of a series of three stories about pig-to-primate transplant experiments conducted by Cambridge, UK, based Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) on behalf of Imutran/Novartis, the company attempting to make animal-to-human transplants (xenotransplantation) a reality. These were based on Uncaged Campaigns' devastating report, Diaries of Despair, which was published after months of research scrutinising a cache of leaked internal documents. The report revealed:

"The shocking truth behind Britain's most high-profile animal experimentation project...The secret papers show horrific animal suffering despite claims to the contrary. They also reveal researchers have exaggerated the success of work aimed at adapting pig organs for human transplant."
Daily Express 21.09.00

Imutran Attempt to Suppress Xenotransplantation Debate

Uncaged Campaigns and Dan Lyons, the author of the Diaries of Despair report, are both currently the subject of a High Court Injunction preventing the dissemination of internal information or statements based on internal information from Imutran. Imutran obtained the injunction by arguing that the publication of the leaked documents breached their commercial confidentiality and endangered the personal safety of individuals named in the document. The injunction was obtained on 26 September 2000, prior to a full hearing on 10 October 2000, and has been adjourned again until mid-November (see above).

We are confident that the initial injunction will be overturned because we believe that there is an overwhelming public interest in the disclosure of this information. 

For more information, including ready-made letters to email, go to our dedicated website at www.xenodiaries.org.

Links to the Daily Express Articles:

This case is proving very costly in terms of legal bills, and our resources. Financial help is desperately needed so that we can win this case for the sake of animals caught in the vivisection industry. Please make any cheques payable to 'Uncaged Campaigns' and send them to the address at the bottom of this page.

Stop EU Chemical Testing Program

The European Union (EU) is intending to launch a chemical testing program which proposes to test over 70,000 chemicals on 10 million animals over a 20 year period. A Europe-wide campaign to stop these animal tests has been organised jointly by PETA and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV).

A website has been set up which outlines exactly what the EU chemical testing program will consist of, our objection to it and what you can do to help stop it.

The website is www.stopEUchemicaltests.com, or telephone BUAV on 0207 700 4888, or PETA on 0208 870 3966.

Please circulate the information on this site as widely as possible. It is very important for the Commission to receive letters, petitions and postcards from as many EU countries as possible opposing this program. The information on this website should help convince politicians and civil servants in the EU that non-animal tests are both the most accurate and humane option.

Max Newton, Uncaged Campaigns & Tony Vernelli, PETA Europe


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