Lab May Have Let Animals Suffer

A Government report says a laboratory in Hampshire might have allowed animals it was using for testing, to suffer.

Wickham Laboratories in Hampshire was found guilty of “a number of potential breaches” of its licence conditions.

The issue came to light after the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) placed an undercover worker in the laboratory for eight months.

Her secretly filmed footage was said to have documented “appalling suffering inflicted on thousands of animals”.

As a result an investigation was launched by the Home Office Inspectorate responsible for monitoring animal testing.

A Government statement issued today said most of the concerns raised by the BUAV had not been substantiated. However, the report had identified “a number of potential breaches of the conditions of Wickham Laboratories' certificate of designation and of one project licence...”

Action to deal with these shortcomings was “now in hand”.

The BUAV maintained that mice at the laboratory routinely died in “cruel poisoning tests” involving a product containing botulinum toxin.

Rabbits also suffered by being restrained in stocks for many hours at a time while they underwent tests, said the group.


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.”

Wickham Laboratories welcomed the Home Office report, pointing out that it had found no evidence of the testing of cosmetic products or ingredients. Animal testing for cosmetics is banned in the UK.

The company accepted the report's finding that animals may have suffered unnecessarily as a result of tests continuing for too long.

It also accepted that the way mice were killed was “inconsistent” and “at times incompetent”.

Chris Bishop, head of animal welfare at the laboratory, said:

“Wickham Labs is granted licences by the Home Office to use animals because of the vital importance of ensuring that products are safe for the public and for patients.

“We have taken seriously the issues raised in this report. Over the last year, we have improved our practices and we constantly strive to improve the care of our animals.”