NAVS Media Release:
The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) has renewed its call for a repeal of the animal experiment ‘secrecy clause’ following the release of a report advising ‘a number of substantive recommendations’ following failings at a top University animal laboratory (1).
The report was commissioned by Imperial College London in response to terrible examples of negligence and animal suffering exposed at the University by an undercover investigation (2, 3). Investigative findings included breaches in and a lack of knowledge of UK Home Office project licences; staff incompetence and neglect that resulted in animal suffering and distress; unsupervised and inexperienced researchers anaesthetising and carrying out surgery on animals; failure to provide adequate anaesthesia and pain relief and the controversial use of a guillotine to carry out live decapitation.
The ‘Brown report’ identifies serious failings at Imperial College London including that its Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body is “not fit for purpose”. However, the committee did not witness any animal experiments during its review of the
The NAVS Chief Executive, Jan Creamer: “Due to blanket secrecy laws, it is only possible for the public to see the shocking reality of life for animals inside laboratories through undercover investigations. At a time when animal experiments have reached the highest number in decades, we cannot continue the current regime of secrecy which keeps animals suffering behind closed doors. Imperial College’s own report recommends a complete overhaul of animal experiments at the University. To help prevent similar animal research failings, which have been exposed by NAVS investigations at animal research facilities across the country, the Government must repeal the Section 24 ‘secrecy clause’ and allow experiment applications to be publicly scrutinised before they are granted.”
For nearly 140 years, the public has been denied access to information on animal experiments. An EU Directive promoting ‘openness and transparency’ in animal research has prompted the Government to review the Section 24 ‘secrecy clause’ which prevents regulators from releasing details of what happens to animals during experiments. A public consultation on Section 24 is due to be launched in the near future (4).
In addition to campaigning for the repeal of Section 24 and public scrutiny for animal experiment Project License Applications, the NAVS is calling for more rigorous monitoring of animal laboratories via the installation of independently monitored CCTV in laboratories (5). A similar independent monitoring system has been demanded at slaughterhouses by the top ten supermarkets, following animal abuse breaches revealed by an undercover investigation (6).
The independence of the University-commissioned committee has been called into question as the chair, Professor Brown, is Director at an animal research centre run by the Medical Research Council (7), which is closely linked to Imperial College London. Nearly 70,000 people have signed a petition calling for an inquiry that is independent of Imperial College London and the Home Office (8). A Home Office report into the findings at Imperial College London will be published later this year (9).
NAVS undercover investigations have revealed:
Oxford University: Technicians laughing and joking as they smashed mice against bench tops to kill them and animals torn open by hand to have their organs ‘harvested’.
Huntingdon Life Sciences: Monkeys suffering prolapses due to stress after being restrained; monkeys being experimented on in front of other monkeys, against proper practice.
Institute of Neurology: A cat dying after suffering for days when the animal received inadequate post-operative care.
Charing Cross & Westminster Medical School: A laboratory losing its Home Office license after the NAVS revealed living animals thrown into dustbin bags for disposal.
1. Imperial College London commissioned report http://brownreport.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Brown-Report-Final-EMBARGOED-0001GMT-10-12-13.pdf
2. A range of failings uncovered by the BUAV investigation at an Imperial College London animal laboratory include:
- Animals suffering beyond what was allowed by project licenses, even dying as a result of the experiments
- Researchers’ lack of knowledge of what they were allowed to do to the animals, including how severely animals were allowed to suffer for each experiment
- Animals suffering and being killed because of incompetence and negligence, such as animals sewn up with equipment left inside them, medical devices inserted incorrectly, and animals waking up during surgery
- Concerning killing methods including fully conscious baby rats’ heads cut off with scissors and adults decapitated with a guillotine
3. The BUAV Investigation at Imperial College London http://licensedtokill.buav.org<http://licensedtokill.buav.org/>
4. NAVS Section 24 explained http://www.navs.org.uk/about_vivisection/27/43/3363<http://www.navs.org.uk/about_vivisection/27/43/3363/>
5. NAVS-Animal Aid joint dossier on CCTV in laboratories
6. Supermarkets demand CCTV following Animal Aid undercover slaughterhouse
7. Imperial College London commissions investigative committee
8. Change.org petition to revoke Imperial College London’s license to perform animal experiments and for an independent inquiry
9. James Brokenshire response to parliamentary question on the Home Office on its
investigation of Imperial College London