Imperial College London severely criticised by Inquiry following BUAV investigation


Imperial College London has been severely criticised by an inquiry it commissioned following the BUAV investigation at one of its animal research facilities in 2012. The recommendations made by the inquiry will have implications for animal research laboratories across the country. The inquiry which was published today has concluded that Imperial College ‘…lacks adequate leadership, management, operational, training, supervisory and ethical review systems to support high standards in animal use and welfare’.

Other findings by the review include:

The Report can be found here:

A BUAV investigator worked for seven months at Imperial College, ranked as one of the best universities in the world, and documented a catalogue of shortcomings and wrongdoing by staff and researchers that caused even more distress and suffering to the animals in its care than was allowed in the experiments. Findings included: breaches in and lack of knowledge of UK Home Office project licences; a failure to provide adequate anaesthesia and pain relief; incompetence and neglect and highly disturbing methods used to kill animals.

The criticism of Imperial College is a damming indictment. If such criticisms can be levelled at one of the world’s leading universities, then it is inevitable that similar issues arise in research establishments all over the country. It should not take an undercover investigation to expose what is happening in UK laboratories. There are now under 20 inspectors (following government reductions) for 4.1 million experiments and relying on the inspection regime is clearly inadequate.

The UK Government and research industry repeatedly claim that the UK has some of the highest welfare standards in the world for animals in laboratories, yet huge secrecy and a lack of transparency surrounds animal research. This BUAV investigation, like many others before, has shown the reality of life for animals - this time in one of the UK's top universities. After years of discussion and consideration the time has now come to throw the system open to proper public scrutiny by repealing Section 24 of the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act which allows the current system to operate under a blanket of secrecy.

A separate inquiry into the BUAV allegations at Imperial College is being undertaken by the Home Office and is expected to be published soon.

Michelle Thew, BUAV Chief Executive stated: 'The BUAV investigation has raised significant and far reaching questions about animal research in the UK. The system overseeing animal experiments in the UK is broken and needs a drastic review, both to end abuse of the permitted licences and to implement the promised reduction in the number of experiments carried out. There are a number of questions that remain unanswered. Who, for example, is to be held accountable for the suffering and distress that has been caused to the thousands of animals in the care of Imperial College? We await the outcome of the separate Home Office inquiry but expect strong action to now be taken against Imperial College for its failings. The public demands no less.'