Introduction to the Campaign
X-CAPE (Cambridge Against Primate Experiments) was formed in September
2000 by a group of Cambridge animal rights campaigners when it was discovered
that the University of Cambridge intend to build new primate research
laboratories on the outskirts of the city, where monkeys would be housed
underground and subjected to cruel invasive brain experiments.
The purpose of our campaign is to prevent the authorisation of these
new proposed laboratories on the grounds that the research is unethical
A recent undercover investigation by the BUAV
revealed that Cambridge University is already conducting experiments on
hundreds of marmoset monkeys in their existing laboratories, to research
human neurodegenerative diseases. These experiments involve deliberately
damaging monkeys' brains by sawing open their skulls, sucking out parts
of the brain, surgically mutilating them or injecting them with toxins.
The site selected for the new primate laboratories was refused by South
Cambridgeshire District Council in January 2000, on the grounds that it
was Green Belt land. The University appealed in July 2001 but was again
refused on the grounds of Crime and Disorder on the recommendation of
the Chairman of Cambridgeshire Police Authority.
We argue that nothing has changed, it is still Green Belt land. Anthony
Keen, Animal Aid's planning expert, has done
an extensive and brilliant report on this project, which has proved invaluable
to our campaign.
The University appealed to the Secretary of State, and a Public
Inquiry commenced at 10am on Tuesday 26th November. On 8th January
2003, barristers for the main parties entered their closing
submissions. Our barrister, Richard Wald, underlined the poverty of
the University's case. Incredibly, it had failed to produce a single expert
witness to support its assertion that experimenting on the brains of hundreds
of monkeys' every year would serve the 'national interest' by advancing
knowledge of specifically human neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's,
Parkinson's, Huntington's and stroke.
The University claimed that fears for the personal safety of any such
witness decided them on this course. And yet - in total contrast - it
produced as a witness, pro-vivisection lobbyist, Mark Matfield of the
Research Defence Society, to argue that opponents of the proposed lab
posed no real threat to public or personal safety. Matfield was encouraged
to pursue his 'no threat' line in an attempt to persuade the inquiry that
permission to build the proposed centre should not be refused on the grounds
that opposition would be too hard to police.
Our evidence included a fully referenced scientific
critique of primate research by Dr Ray Greek.
The inspector's final report was
a triumph for all those opposed to these pitiless and unscientific experiments.
He declared that the University had failed to show that the proposed brain
research was in the national interest.
"It would be a stronger argument," he wrote, "to say that
it is nationally important [for Cambridge University] to catch up on alternative
forms of research to that employing animals".
However, on November 21st the Deputy PM announced that the University
had permission to proceed. Given the overwhelming way in which the planned
centre was rejected, John Prescott has acted with outrageous high-handedness
by swatting aside the report from his own inspector. In January 2004,
Animal Aid and NAVS announced the launch of a High
Court challenge to the decision and the BUAV launched Judicial
Just prior to this, the governing body of Cambridge University - known
as Regent House - broke its silence over the way it claims it was bounced
into approving the proposed monkey research centre. The Council of the
University did not even tell Regent House that the planned 'new research
facility' would engage in primate research.
The revelation was contained in the university's formal journal, Cambridge
University Reporter. There is clearly a great deal of anger that the equivalent
of the university's parliament was duped by the executive. Back in August
a Daily Express report was even predicting that
Regent House could vote against going ahead.
X-CAPE believes that the University of Cambridge should abandon its monkey
lab plans and, instead, dedicate its intellectual and financial resources
to building a world-class Centre of Excellence (on a non-Green Belt land
site). Here, human neurological diseases could be studied without harming
animals, using state-of-the art non-animal technologies. See the special
report on this subject by NAVS.
Equally, the sort of research being done at the Cambridge Brain Bank
at Addenbrooke's Hospital is much more relevant to human diseases, as
you will see if you search Cambridge Brain Bank Laboratories on the web.
They do not have their own website, but they have a very good leaflet,
available on request, entitled 'Cambridge Brain Bank Laboratory Appeal'.
Primates are intelligent, highly developed animals who would normally
live in social groups similar to our own. Their capacity for pain and
suffering is much the same as ours, and the close confinement, isolation
and handling, all further contribute to stress and torment for these highly
sensitive creatures. On this site you will find summary information about
the use of primates in research, as well as links to longer articles on
the sites of other animal protection groups.
For a general introduction to the use of primates in brain research,
read the Dr Hadwen Trust's Report on the Use of (Non-Human)
Primates in Brain Research. The report makes for compelling reading.
We urge everyone to join us in making every effort to ensure that
the barbaric research, as exposed by the BUAV, is never allowed to be
repeated in any new laboratories.
An anti-vivisection battleground >>
X-CAPE can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone on 01223 311828.