National Anti-vivisection Society

 

National Antivisection Society

Partial victory for freedom of information on animal experiments

1st July 2004

- but Government bows to pressure from vivisection industry

Today, following a nine year campaign by the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) the Government has announced that animal experiments will be covered by the publication rules of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoI).

Anonymised information on experiments will be released by the Home Office. However, in a dismal bow to the power of a secretive industry, the notorious ‘secrecy clause’ Section 24, of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA), will be retained, leading the NAVS to question just how meaningful the information supplied will be.

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of the NAVS: “This is a bittersweet victory for the NAVS, and for those who believe in the public’s right to know what goes on in our name. The Government has finally agreed to greater openness, but the most meaningful information could still be witheld from the public".

"What is needed on this issue is an open public debate and wider scientific scrutiny of proposals to use animals before a licence is granted. Then, suggestions can be made for non-animal alternatives to be used. Names and locations are unnecessary and can be excluded.

"The FoI already provides for the Government to withhold information given in confidence, and information which might endanger a person’s health or safety. So in addition to this protection under FoI, the vivisection community retains their additional blanket bar to disclosure of information, Section 24 of the ASPA."

This announcement comes just days after the Government admitted in parliament that the Home Office has never evaluated whether experiments on animals cannot be scientifically reproduced using other methods and subjects.

Once again the Government has allowed itself to be swayed by the powerful animal experimentation lobby. This time they have also ignored the recommendation of the House of Lords Select Committee, which was that Section 24 of the ASPA be revoked.

The Government also ignored the evidence of its own Planning Inspector who presided over the public inquiry into the Cambridge University monkey labortory; the inspector recommended that planning permission for the lab be refused, but Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott overruled the decision. Later this month, the NAVS is taking the Government to the High Court of Appeal about the decision.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:
NAVS can provide photographs and video of animals in UK laboratories.

Chief Executive Jan Creamer and Campaigns Director Tim Phillips are available for interview.

© National Anti-Vivisection Society

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