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Judicial Review of UK animal testing laws begins tomorrow

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White rabbit in lab with skin shaved for testing

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The hearing for our Judicial Review of the Home Office’s policy on animal testing begins at the Royal Courts of Justice in London tomorrow.

The two-day review challenges the Home Office’s decision to abandon the policy ban on testing cosmetics on animals – which has been in place since 1998. In its August 2021 letter to us, the Home Office admitted that it now allows animal testing for cosmetics in the UK.

Tests are required even where chemicals are used exclusively as cosmetics ingredients.

The Judicial Review – which decides the lawfulness of a public body’s actions – has been brought for two reasons. Firstly, to confirm that the decision to reverse the cosmetics policy ban is unlawful and secondly to confirm with safety testing more generally that the Home Office must assess the usefulness of the product or ingredient when deciding whether to grant a licence for animal tests.

The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 requires this assessment, based on ethical considerations and the likely benefits to humans, animals or the environment. However, the Government now says that a licence for safety testing on animals must be granted for tests where another regulator says it is scientifically required, regardless of how useful the product is or how much suffering is involved.

The Home Office’s admission that it allows animal testing for cosmetics in the UK followed our letter, co-signed by more than 80 companies, including Unilever, The Body Shop, Avon, Boots, Waitrose and the Co-op, voicing concerns that ingredients in beauty products would have to be tested on animals in the UK.

Our CEO, Michelle Thew said: “This Judicial Review is vital in our fight to reinstate the cosmetics testing ban. The Home Office’s admission that it now allows animal testing for cosmetic ingredients – including those used solely in cosmetics, and with a history of safe use – blows a hole in the UK’s longstanding leadership in banning animal testing for cosmetics.

“The Government seems to be telling the public one thing – that cosmetics animal testing is banned in the UK – and doing something entirely different in practice. These are not tests that cosmetics companies want or feel the need to do to ensure the safety of their products. We also know, from poll after poll, that the British people are firmly opposed to animals suffering for beauty. A poll carried out by YouGov in Autumn 2021 revealed that 85% of people in the UK find it unacceptable to test cosmetics ingredients on animals.”

Our Target Zero campaign calls for an ambitious government-led strategy to end experiments on animals with a government minister solely dedicated to leading the fast transition to animal-free science. Find out how you can be a Target Zero Hero to end animal experiments in the UK.