BUAV wins animal suffering court case over government

Anti-vivisection charity BUAV is celebrating after a high-court judge ruled in its favour in a judicial review against the Government. The judge ruled that the Government had downplayed the suffering of marmosets used in laboratory experiments by incorrectly categorising the severity of the procedures.

The review, brought by BUAV last week, concluded that the Home Office acted unlawfully when it defined brain experiments on the animals at Cambridge University in 2000 as causing “moderate” rather than “substantial” suffering.

The judge granted the Government leave to appeal against his decision and also found in its favour on three additional points regarding post-operative care for the marmosets. BUAV was not granted leave to appeal against those decisions.

Michelle Thew, chief executive of the BUAV, said: “The Government can no longer pretend it has the strictest regulation of animal experiments in the world. This case demonstrates it has ridden roughshod over the public’s trust in this matter.”

The judge’s decisions were based on evidence gathered by BUAV during a ten-month undercover investigation at the university that revealed the Home Office categorised procedures such as removing of the top of marmosets’ heads to induce strokes as causing moderate suffering. Guidelines state that any procedure that “may lead to a major departure from the animals’ usual state of health and of well-being” should be categorised as substantial.

A Home Office spokesperson said the department was disappointed by the ruling and believed it had been “rigorous” in applying the law, but needed to study the judgement in detail before commenting further.

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