HIGH COURT CHALLENGE
Historic appeal against Prescott's decision
Animal Aid and NAVS have launched a High Court challenge
to John Prescott's decision to allow the primate research laboratory to
be built. (Full grounds of appeal are available here
in PDF format). The following press release was released in January
by Animal Aid.
Animal Aid and the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) have
launched a High Court challenge to the decision by First Secretary of
State John Prescott to allow a massive primate research laboratory to
be built in the Cambridgeshire green belt. The appeal describes Prescott's
decision as perverse, unreasonable and unfair.
Moreover, his ruling dismisses the clear advice of his own Planning Inspector,
and the evidence presented to a public inquiry staged at the end of last
year. This was held to determine if special circumstances would allow
Cambridge University to build the controversial monkey laboratory in the
At the two week hearing, Animal Aid and the NAVS presented extensive
scientific evidence to show that the primate centre would produce no benefits
for human medicine. By contrast, the Planning Inspector concluded that
Cambridge University had failed to show that there was a "national
need" for the laboratory. John Prescott simply ignored this finding.
In the historic appeal, lodged this week, it is noted that:
Prime Minister Tony Blair made public statements, in speeches and
in letters, that supported the proposal, but that these were issued
outside of the planning process and before the Inquiry had even been
the decision to grant permission for the monkey laboratory was a
forgone conclusion, predetermining the result of the inquiry;
the Deputy Prime Minister's decision was based on little fact and
letters from DTi Minister Lord Sainsbury, supporting the application
to build the monkey lab, influenced the decision, but contained shortcomings.
For example, he erroneously claimed that the findings of the recent
House of Lords Select Committee Inquiry on animal experiments supports
the proposal for this laboratory;
the denial of information to the objectors (Animal Aid and the NAVS)
during the inquiry constitutes interference under the Human Rights
Said Norna Hughes of Nabarro Nathanson, solicitors for Animal Aid and
"We are saying in this appeal that the intervention
in this case by the Prime Minister and the DTi Minister amounts to an
abuse of the planning process. The only way for my clients to get a fair
hearing is to go to court.
"NAVS and Animal Aid believe that the Government is
not prepared to give anti-vivisectionists a fair hearing because to do
so might be interpreted as giving in to the animal activists. The inevitable
consequence is that effective debate is stifled; any form of public hearing
including this planning inquiry are only going through the motions.
"The only independent assessment of this planning
application in this case was by the local planning authority and the Inspector,
both of whom turned it down but the government still approved it. Significantly,
the planning inspector thought there was something in the objectors' complaint
that the outcome was a forgone conclusion. Commenting on the University's
refusal to present evidence of need for the proposed development and therefore
the inability of the Inquiry to test the evidence, the inspector said
'Without this, the fears of some objectors that the outcome is a foregone
conclusion is granted credibility'."
Andrew Tyler, Director of Animal Aid and Jan Creamer, Chief Executive
of NAVS, said in a joint statement:
"The Prime Minister, John Prescott, and Lord Sainsbury
appear to be riding roughshod over public opinion and the facts of this
case. We can have little faith in the Prime Minister's current listening
exercise if this is an example."
Full grounds of appeal (PDF format) >>
BUAV launch judicial review proceedings >>
Animal Aid press release, 05 January 2004