MORAL VICTORY IS OURS!
Inspector's final report 'a triumph'
The inspector's final report was a triumph for all those
opposed to these pitiless and unscientific experiments. He declared that
the University had failed to show that the proposed brain research was
in the national interest. On November 21st, the Deputy PM announced that
the University had permission to proceed.
Given the overwhelming way in which the planned centre was rejected,
John Prescott has acted with outrageous high-handedness by swatting aside
the report from his own inspector. Extracts from the report follow below.
The inspector's conclusions
are also available here (PDF format).
...Cambridge University (CU) chose not to call any technical witness
involved directly in the research projects or anyone benefiting directly
...If the research on non-human primates at CU, or any animal research
at any institution, has led to successful clinical trials on humans or
the establishment of other medical/clinical procedures etc, then it should
have been possible to 'parade' the recipients of the research information
before the inquiry. As the Coalition proposed, they could have supported
the 'national interest/need' argument and, not being directly involved
in animal research themselves, would not have been placing themselves
at risk. Nothing akin to this was attempted.
...It was as if CU felt there is no need to demonstrate the scientific/medical
worth of the research carried on at the non-human primate centre. Some
clearly felt this to be an arrogant and high-handed approach to the public
inquiry and to the openness in which such proceedings should take place.
...The technical information that was presented to the inquiry could
best be described as peripheral skirmishing, without CU making any real
attempt to secure an objective conclusion on or specific details about
what is proposed. As it was, a considerable amount of written evidence
was placed before the inquiry by CU and objectors, but those actually
and specifically qualified in non-human primate research into neurological
illness or conditions and had produced the papers on the topic were not
able to be tested by questioning. Each paper or article submitted was
almost immediately rebutted by another, arguably of equal standing.
...On the basis of the technical input, therefore, I could not conclude
that need in the national interest is demonstrated insofar as this pertains
to the scientific/medical research and procedures undertaken by the University.
...Perhaps of more relevance, CU did not counter by claiming that, even
in the neurological field, the success of clinical trials on humans following
testing on non-human primates was of a higher order.
...In addition, I am mindful that when CU was asked about the consequences
of their appeal being dismissed, they responded by saying that this would
be the end of the matter and such a research establishment would not be
pursued. I did not find this response to be consistent with national need
...I have looked carefully at the letter from the Medical Research Council
(MRC). I would have liked to ask more questions, but once again, the author
of the letter was more concerned with protecting anonymity than appearing
at the inquiry to support the submissions.
...In conclusion, there are several arguments that could be seen in favour
of this project. However, whether taking the points individually or cumulatively,
I have not seen them as being so compelling as to justify this particular
project as one in the national interest.
...In fact, if one accepts the premise that wherever possible research
should not involve animals, it would be a stronger argument to say that
it is nationally important to keep together and service the excellent
and acknowledged research expertise in Cambridge to catch up on alternative
forms of research to that employing animals.
...Although CU submit the views of the scientific bodies as strongly
in favour of animal research, there is little to say this mirrors the
...In the first place, the public resents clearly the lack of open debate
on the issue of the scientific/medial provenance of the research. They
see the University's lack of engagement on this matter as dismissive of
their strongly held views.
...However, unlike the University who believe that today's objections
will evaporate, I share the view expressed by the Police that the objections
to something as emotive and sensitive as research on non-human primates
will not disappear.
...I firmly believe that the public will continue to agitate vociferously
and 'forcibly' against the use of non-human primates.
...As is pointed out, Government 'policy' on such matters as foxhunting,
the export of live animals, the use of animals in testing cosmetics and
of the great apes in experimentation/research etc, often lags behind the
...Insofar as monitoring the living and social conditions of animals
involved in the research... There is a belief that the Home Office Inspectors
involved have become desensitised over time and this is why they have
'missed' the 'failings' alleged by BUAV and others.
...Next, it is submitted that the animals would be kept in much better
conditions than at present. One would hope this would be the case, but
there can be no guarantee through the planning system that anything other
than the legal minimum would be provided. Even then, I am not sure why
this planning permission is necessary to achieve these 'higher standards'.
If this is felt to be important than I was presented with no evidence
to suggest this could not be achieved today at the disparate sites.
...those objecting see a system, which is arguably self-perpetuating
by way of peer review involving many also involved in similar research.
As for licensing/grant applications, while many overseeing this process
are not directly involved in animal research today, the scrutiny process
is not seen as transparent. From the lack of information and evidence
placed before me, I see no reason to disagree.
...No central University body or public or private industrial park is
prepared to accept the proposed non-human primate research centre within
...Despite CU dismissing the prospect of viral leakage, it is worth noting
the Oxford Professor who cites the closure of part of a building in Oxford
University as a direct result of viral escape.
...Having heard CU's submissions I confess to being perplexed. In one
breath they promote the Cambridge phenomena and the national importance
of this specific enterprise. Next they claim that there is little or no
likelihood that demonstrations will continue once the appeal decision
has been issued. Then, despite these two contentions, they are not prepared
to accommodate the project on one of the identified University sites.
Objectors could be forgiven for viewing this as a most cynical form of
I recommend that this appeal be dismissed.
ACTION! Please get involved in the campaign >>
Extracts from the inspector's report, 27 November 2003