14th May 2015
High Court gives us permission to bring a judicial review against the UK Home Office
In an important ruling, the High Court has granted Cruelty Free International permission to bring a judicial review against the Home Office.
Cruelty Free International has accused Home Office ministers of foul play, and challenged both the inadequate care of animals at Imperial College London (ICL) and the extremely weak penalties imposed on those staff found to have breached their licences. The case arises out of the Cruelty Free International ground-breaking undercover investigation of animal experiments at ICL in 2012.
On 2 October 2014, the Home Office published its report into the Cruelty Free Internatioanl allegations. It found a ‘generally poor culture of care’ at ICL and issued a compliance notice to the Registrar requiring substantial improvement in key areas, including application of the ‘Three Rs’ (use of alternatives methods to minimise suffering).
This apart, the report claimed that inspectors investigated 180 allegations by Cruelty Free International of breaches of the law by researchers and found only five to be established. In fact, it has now emerged that the inspectors only investigated 18 allegations and agreed with the thrust of the BUAV’s complaints about poor standards at ICL.
The case also challenges the wholly inadequate care of animals at ICL, with animals left unattended overnight after highly invasive surgery; and the extremely weak penalties imposed by the Home Office on transgressors (simply reprimands and more training). Serious criticisms of animal research at ICL have also been made both by an independent review commissioned by ICL and the Government’s advisory body.
Weak penalties for licence breaches impacting on animal welfare are part of a longstanding pattern that Cruelty Free International has previously raised with the Home Office as well as a lack of 24 hour care provided by laboratory staff.
Find out more: Animal experiments at Imperial College London