Universities forced to come clean about controversial primate experiments

 

Universities will be forced to reveal details of controversial research, including testing on monkeys, after a tribunal ruling made it harder for them to claim exemption from Freedom of Information requests.

Newcastle University had argued that responding to requests could endanger the safety of scientists or harm its commercial interests. But a landmark ruling by the Information Tribunal found in favour of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) in its three-year battle against the university, insisting it hand over details of Home Office licences to conduct experiments on primates.

The charity claimed the lead researcher had been refused permission by the authorities in Germany to carry out the invasive brain techniques, which involved restraining macaques and limiting their water supply. It also said that no human benefit had emerged from the trials.

Campaigners believe the decision could have implications for Britain's university sector and it follows calls by Sir Paul Nurse, the President of the Royal Society, for the FOI Act to be reviewed.

Sir Paul told The Independent this week that the legislation was being used as an aggressive "tool of intimidation" against researchers engaged in high- profile studies on climate change, tobacco or using laboratory animals.

The University of Newcastle, which has already spent £230,000 opposing the applications from BUAV, is now expected to go to the Court of Appeal, where it will argue the licences are exempt under the Animal Scientific Procedures Act.

The tribunal concluded that a recent decline in animal rights violence meant researchers were unlikely to become targets for extremists. It added: "Refusal to communicate with the public carries its own risks... creating the impression there is something to hide."

It said assertions that disclosing details of the licences might prejudice commercial interests were "borderline".

The tribunal, which agreed to make minor redactions from the licences, concluded: "It is not in dispute that the public has a legitimate interest in knowing what is going on by way of animal research and the extent to which regulatory functions are being properly discharged."

Michelle Thew, chief executive of BUAV, was delighted by the ruling. "These are controversial and invasive experiments carried out on monkeys at a public institution. The public has a right to know what is happening to these poor animals and why," she said.

A spokesperson for Newcastle University said: "The university carries out a small amount of scientific work on primates where no alternative for the research exists and this is fully regulated by the Home Office."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?