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News Archive

Huntingdon Life Sciences Abuse Prosecution

As a postscript to our report on the government's "softly softly" treatment of Huntingdon Life Sciences in the wake of the Channel 4 documentary "It's a Dog's Life," comes the court's treatment of the animal technicians shown striking, shaking and shouting at beagles in the film.

Robert Waters and Andrew Marsh admitted charges of "cruelly terrifying dogs" but were sentenced with community service and total costs of £250 only. Uncaged, in common with the RSPCA, NAVS and other organisations, have condemned these sentences as far too lenient, and deeply regret that the law in this country seems unable or unwilling to punish such abuse of animals appropriately at any level.

Meanwhile, an undercover researcher at Huntingdon Life Science's laboratory in New Jersey, USA, has revealed yet more abuse. See our Procter & Gamble page for more details.

Uncaged Save Consort Beagles

As a result of pressure from animal rights activists, Consort Kennels, a major breeder and supplier of beagles to vivisection laboratories, closed down in September.

Unfortunately, the Kennel's owners decided to sell the remaining dogs off as "assets," the most likely buyers being, of course, the experimenters. Over 170 dogs were being sold at £300 each, and Uncaged felt unable to stand by and allow these animals to go to the labs. Despite our doubts about giving money to the breeders we decided to buy four dogs.

The four dogs - named Willow, Eddie, Polly and Snap by their new owners - have all been found good homes, but as they have spent their entire lives in kennels they have a big adjustment to make. Three out of the four have serious problems with their teeth, and all require house-training. So far, all the beagles are responding well to a loving environment, but it is shocking to think that their entire lives have been spent imprisoned, never mind the fate that would have awaited them in the labs.

Despite the expense and the problems of re-adjustment the dogs (and their owners) face, we are proud to have saved the lives of these individual animals from vivisection and a certain early death. All the dogs from Consort have now been rescued, but even 170 lives represent a drop in the ocean when nearly three million animals are killed in British laboratories every year. That is why Uncaged continue to devote our energies to changing the minds of the public, changing the law and ending vivisection forever.

Government U-Turn

Many of you will have seen the reports in the UK press in October about the government's failure to honour the pledges it made about laboratory animals before the election.

Uncaged gave its backing to Labour in the general election as the major party with the best policies on animal issues and since the election have been lobbying the govenment and MPs continually about this very matter. In response to these (belated, it has to be said) press reports, and the public concern they engendered, Uncaged, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Naturewatch and other organisations wrote a joint letter to the government detailing the promises on which they appear to have reneged and expressing our dismay at this apparent U-Turn.

You are less likely to have heard about Barry Horne, a prisoner for animal rights offences, who spent more than six weeks on hunger strike in an attempt to persuade the government to honour its pledge to hold a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Vivisection. The Home Office finally agreed to meet a delegation nominated by Barry to discuss this issue only after his condition had deteriorated significantly, (we are informed he is now recovering well). Having initially objected to the criminal records of his nominated colleagues the government apparently agreed that as their criminal records all related to animal rights actions, they would disregard them in that context.

Although not everyone will agree with Barrys actions or tactics, there can be no doubting his sincerity and commitment. It is also sad that his hunger strike, which was surely newsworthy, received no coverage in the national media: it seems that they are unwilling to give the animal rights movement the comprehensive attention they give to many less serious issues.

(Joint letter to Mr Blair)

The Labour Party and Animal Experiments - a joint letter from animal protection organisations

Thursday 23rd October 1997

Dear Mr Blair

It has become apparent that the Government has broken many of its promises on "animals in the laboratory", as outlined in the document "New Life For Animals".

Royal Commission

Our core concern is over the Governments U-Turn over its promise to hold a Royal Commission " to review the effectiveness and justification of animal experiments." This commitment to hold a Royal Commission was confirmed only three weeks before the general election by Elliot Morley. Since gaining power, the Labour Government has refused to implement this promise.

For too long, those campaigning against cruelty to animals, and for a more rational and effective approach to research, had been frustrated by a Government more willing to pander to the wants of powerful corporate lobby groups than stand up for what is right.

The prospect of a Royal Commission of Enquiry reresented an excellent opportunity to make progress on one of the most controversial social issues of our era.

The Government is now claiming that the current review of the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 being carried out by the Animal Procedures Committee (APC) is an adequate substitute for the Royal Commission. However, this is completely unsatisfactory. The remit of the review is far too narrow, and the APC itself is dominated by proponents of animal experimentation, often with a commercial interest and research background in vivisection. To put it bluntly, we have no confidence in the review whatsoever: it is simply a way of rubber-stamping present practices rather than an unbiased and objective review.

Specific Areas of Animal Testing

In New Life For Animals, you stated: "Labour is totally committed to stopping cosmetic testing on animals. But despite Labour's vocal opposition to cosmetics testing, such experiments are set to run until the year 2002. If Labour are really committed to stopping cosmetic testing then licences must be withdrawn immediately and any animals involved rehomed.

The Labour Government has refused to implement its pledges to ban the Draize test, the LD50 test and alcohol and tobacco experiments, instead preferring to call for a European or international ban. The reason given for not acting unilaterally is to protect the commercial interest of British companies. We feel that this is a feeble excuse. To prioritise profits over the suffering and death of animals is obscene.

On weapons tesing, Labour stated: "We will forbid the use of animals in the testing and development of weapons." Labour in Government has refused to rule out the use of animals in the recently announced research programme at Porton Down, the Government's chemical and biological warfare establishment in Wiltshire.

Wild Caught Primates

Labour claims it is opposed to the use of wild-caught primates in UK laboratories. However, Home Office officials have refused to ban such experiments, preferring to leave the door open for project applications.

We have been happy to tell the public that the advent of a Labour Government at least allows some of these issues to be discussed, and creates opportunities for progress to be made in terms of our society's relationship with nonhuman animals, and the direction of modern science and technology. However, even this guarded optimism seems misplaced. We were hoping that New Labour's coming to power would signal a break with the discredited Government of the Conservatives. Unfortunately, the only breaks being made seem to be with Labour's pre-election promises - a depressing echo of 18 years of Tory rule.

It is dishonest and undemocratic to make promises before a general election, only to break those promises so spectacularly once victory has been achieved. Therefore, we call on the Government to honour all of its pre-election pledges on "animals in the laboratory."

"Labour has consistently shown itself as the only party to trust on issues of animal welfare", new life for animals proudly declares. Unless you decide to honour your pre-election pledges, we don't expect to see that sentence in any Labour document ever again.

Yours sincerely

Dan Lyons, on behalf of:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
London Animal Action
Preston Action for Animals


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