Diaries of Despair campaign and legal update
of Despair Protests
20 & 21 September 2002
Later this year, Saturday 21 September, will mark the second anniversary
of our publication of the still-injuncted Diaries of Despair report into
Imutran's pig-to-primate organ transplant experiments at Huntingdon Life
You'll be well aware that the principle aim of the campaign at this stage
is a call for an independent judicial inquiry to investigate the Home
Office's wrongdoing as revealed by the documents:
- inaccurate public and Parliamentary statements designed to protect
Imutran and HLS,
- miscategorisation of extremely cruel experiments in order to make
it easier to license them,
- failure to conduct an adequate cost-benefit assessment (as required
by legislation - ignoring the severe suffering endured by animals and
simultaneously accepting without question the false potential benefits
claimed by Imutran for their research).
For more details about the campaign, please see www.xenodiaries.org.
Basically, the Government bends and breaks legislation to allow pointless
cruelty to animals that not even the current regulatory framework should
permit. The recent BUAV revelations at Cambridge University revealed similar
It's absolutely crucial to appreciate that the Imutran documents hold
the promise of the biggest shake-up of vivisection - and Government policy
that promotes it - at least since the passing of the Animals (Scientific
Procedures) Act 1986. The extent of the Government's unjustified support
for HLS is one of the most politically-controversial revelations within
the documentation. The legal battle Uncaged Campaigns and myself are fighting
has the potential to expose evidence that could finally result in the
closure of HLS.
Regarding this autumn's event, our provisional plan is:
- To submit our petition to 10 Downing Street on the day before (at
approximately lunchtime). We shall also be contacting MPs and celebrities
to invite them to participate in the handing in of the petition. Please
join our lobby on Whitehall opposite Downing Street. We are expecting
extensive media coverage and so a large turnout will help maximise the
pressure on the Government. We'll have costumes, face masks, banners,
placards etc. for the event.
- The protest itself. The provisional arrangements are:
Assemble at Temple Place, Victoria Embankment at 12 noon.
Speeches commence at 12.45pm.
March sets off at 1.30pm.
Arrive at Home Office at approximately 2.30pm, where die-in will take
place (protesters will be in monkey costumes/masks.
Remain outside Home Office for one hour, finishing with wreath-laying
ceremony to commemorate the 500 primates sacrificed by Imutran at HLS.
The legal proceedings brought against myself and Uncaged Campaigns by
Imutran & Novartis Pharma are still ongoing. (Contrary to a mistaken
sentence in Dr Ho's review of George Monbiot's "Captive State"
book, circulated by EFMA and VIN, no trial has taken place in these proceedings,
the current injunction is only temporary at the moment.)
The argument in favour of an independent judicial inquiry is very similar
to central aspects of our Defence in the legal proceedings brought against
us by Imutran and Novartis Pharma as they seek a permanent injunction
preventing us from publishing the report and documentation. We have contested
the proceedings for twenty months now, mostly without legal representation.
That situation appears likely to change soon for significant reasons.
After an arduous application process lasting almost a year, the Legal
Services Commission have recommended to the Lord Chancellor's Department
that I receive legal aid on the basis that we have a good chance of success
and the case raises public interest issues which are of particularly high
significance. The good chance of success is based partly on the strength
of evidence of Home Office culpability referred to above. (Indeed, we
would not have published the documents in the first place, called for
an independent judicial inquiry and contested the legal proceedings despite
the threat of personal bankruptcy and enormous resource disadvantage were
it not for the strength of our case.)
The particular legal impact of this issue is that because the leaked
documentation shows evidence of Home Office wrongdoing, it cannot be satisfactory
to limit disclosure to the Home Office - independent, public scrutiny
is required. Furthermore, none of the other current "Authorised Recipients"
of the injuncted material (e.g. the APC) has the power or independence
to justify limited disclosure rather than public disclosure. Ironically,
the Home Office's conduct since the exposé, in particular the refusal
to agree to an independent investigation, has strengthened our case.
The RSPCA's own report on this affair is likely to be published in the
near future - the RSPCA has already echoed our call for an independent
I'm sure you can appreciate that the last twenty months have been pretty
horrendous both for myself and for Uncaged Campaigns as we have tried
to contest the proceedings as litigants in person against a very powerful
and ruthless company. Hopefully, the battle will eventually have been
well worth it when we can publish the leaked documents or a selection
of them, and Uncaged Campaigns and I can avoid bankruptcy!
Help build the campaign
All the work we have done so far has been on a shoestring budget and
our finances are on a knife-edge. The legal proceedings in particular
have placed an enormous strain on us. I cannot emphasise too much how
much we need committed, persistent funding in order to fund the committed,
persistent and effective work that we do. We can accept donations on the
telephone via VISA or Mastercard. Alternatively, there is a donation/standing
order form available to print
off here (PDF).
Petition, information leaflet and postcard campaign
This summer, please be active in the Diaries of Despair campaign in your
local area. We have a free campaign pack available for local activists,
perfect for using on stalls.
Please help us to collect as many signatures as possible on our Diaries
of Despair petition that will be submitted to 10 Downing Street on Friday
20 September. The petitions need to be returned to us by 10 September.
Also available from us are information leaflets and campaign postcards
to accompany this campaign, plus flyers and posters advertising the Diaries
of Despair protest on 21 September 2002. All these resources will be available
as a pack from us.
We are making an exception to our usual policy regarding making contributions
to the costs of producing materials. Because we have a fairly large stock
of the leaflets and postcards that may need updating soon, we are offering
the campaign pack FREE. However, we do of course appreciate, and are desperate
for, donations towards the cost of these materials and the campaign generally.
To give you an idea of costs involved: The p&p for each campaign pack
costs £5. The materials themselves cost at least a further £10
To order your Diaries of Despair campaign pack, please telephone, write
or email us with your name, contact details, and local group affiliation
House of Commons Early Day Motion (EDM) 516 "Imutran Ltd"
Thank you to all of you who have written to your MPs asking them to sign
this EDM, which calls upon the Government to establish an independent
judicial inquiry into the Diaries of Despair scandal. To date, 93 MPs
have signed the EDM now, which is an excellent response, but it would
be a great psychological boost to the campaign if we could reach the century
before this Parliamentary session finishes.
Please take ten minutes to visit www.xenodiaries.org/edmhelp.htm
for a link to a list of MPs who have already signed, a sample letter to
send to your MP, to find out who your MP is, and even how to email them
directly. Many supporters who have written have inspired their MP to sign,
so there is a really good chance of a positive outcome. Even if your MP
does not sign, the correspondence is important to keep the issue fresh
in their minds and build the pressure.
Thank you for all your support for this historic campaign for the anti-vivisection
Dan Lyons, Uncaged Campaigns 13.06.02