Credit: The Israeli Society for the Abolition of Vivisection (ISAV). Top: J Creamer / NAVS
"The Deputy Prime Minister's decision was based on little fact and flawed information"









"We can have little faith in the Prime Minister's current listening exercise if this is an example"


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 Green Belt.

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 held;

  • 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 flawed information;

  • 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 Act.

Said Norna Hughes of Nabarro Nathanson, solicitors for Animal Aid and the NAVS:

"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