Animal lab 'guilty of breaching its licence'

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AN ANIMAL testing laboratory breached its licence on several occasions, according to the Home Office.

An investigation was launched into Wickham Labs after complaints of animal cruelty by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) group.

An undercover investigation alleged that mice routinely died in cruel poisoning tests rather than being 'humanely' killed by staff.

The group also claimed that staff incompetence in the way mice were killed led to their suffering – including the practice of neck breaking with a pen on the corridor floor.

In a report released today, the government said that while the majority of concerns raised by the BUAV in their report 'have not been substantiated', it identifies 'a number of potential breaches' of its licence.

'Action to deal with these issues is now in hand,' said the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities and Criminal Information,Lynne Featherstone.

'Accordingly, the review recommends measures for stricter oversight of Wickham Laboratories and to ensure that procedures for the handover of establishments between inspectors are always carried out fully. These are being taken forward as a matter of urgency. Action is also in hand to identify and take forward wider lessons to be learned from the review

BUAV Chief Executive, Michelle Thew said: 'We are pleased that the Home Office has substantiated many of the BUAV's findings, some of which echo our previous investigation of this establishment.

'We are very disappointed, however, that an opportunity to properly enforce non-animal methods has been missed.

'Yet again, despite the Government's claim that we have the best animal-testing regulations in the world, our investigation has clearly shown unnecessary animal suffering and law-breaking in a UK establishment.

'In light of this report, we call upon the Government to remove the licence from Wickham Laboratories and urgently ensure that the available non-animal alternatives are used.'