Battle for Data on Animal Tests; Freedom of Information Chief Backs University's Stance

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Byline: Alastair Craig

ACOURT ruling is expected this week to resolve a row over access to animal testing data at a North East university. The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) launched legal action after a failed Freedom of Information request on experiments carried out at Newcastle University. BUAV asked the university's medical research department for details on testing procedures and welfare controls for tests on primates undertaken in 2008.

Almost 21,000 animals were used in medical experiments at the university that year, including Macaque monkeys for examining new treatments for Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's and spinal conditions.

University bosses rejected the FoI request, claiming sensitive research programmes would be endangered if information was released before the work was completed.

They argued that research details remained the "intellectual property" of individual scientists until work was finished and published in UK medical journals.

The government's Freedom of Information Commissioner agreed with the university's stance but BUAV leaders appealed the decision.

An appeal tribunal hearing in London last month heard details of the case and a ruling is due shortly.

A BUAV spokesman said the London-based group - which is campaigning for a ban on all animal testing - submitted the FoI request to highlight vivisection in "graphic detail".

He said: "We first requested information from Newcastle University about experiments on primates conducted there in June 2008. …