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Newcastle University’s arguments ruled ‘an affront to common sense’ in BUAV appeal

BUAV press release
10 November 2010

The Information Tribunal today described legal arguments run by Newcastle
University as ‘an affront to common sense’. The comment was made following an
appeal by the BUAV under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) into taxpayerfunded
experiments on nonhuman primates at Newcastle University.
The tribunal, led by Judge Bartlett QC, rejected the University’s claims that it
does not hold any information about any of the very large number of animal
experiments carried out there. It admitted that there are around 70 government
licences in operation at any one time (a single licence can involve hundreds of
animals) but claimed that only the researchers, its employees, hold information
about the research. If true, that would defeat an FOIA request.
The Tribunal gave a trenchant response to the argument:
‘[The BUAV] submitted that the result for which the University contended
was an affront to common-sense. [It] submitted it would be remarkable if
the University did not hold important information about extensive animal
research carried out on its premises by its employees, for which it
received the funds, for which it provided the facilities, the training, the
ancillary staff, the drugs, the routine equipment and the necessary
insurances, in respect of which the University owed duties of care to
safeguard employees and the local community from biosecurity risks, in
respect of which the University claimed intellectual property rights and for
which its Registrar acted as the certificate holder [person in overall charge
of animal experiments] representing the governing body and protecting the
interests of the University. We agree …’

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