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Last Updated: Friday, 30 July, 2004, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Primate lab challenge is rejected
Primate, RDS/Wellcome Trust photo
Planning permission for the scheme runs for five years
Animal rights campaigners have lost their High Court battle to overturn a decision to grant planning permission for a primate research centre.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott gave Cambridge University the go ahead to build the laboratory at Girton.

The university had already decided to abandon the plans but the permission remains valid for five years.

Rejecting the challenge, Mr Justice Collins said Mr Prescott "was correct" in his dealings.

The judge said Mr Prescott, in his role as First Secretary of State in charge of planning, "would have acted wrongly if he had not applied government policy".

The animal rights coalition questioned the influence of the prime minister and science minister Lord Sainsbury on the public inquiry process.

But the judge said the suggestion Mr Prescott effectively closed his mind to any objections because of letters from Lord Sainsbury "was not something which could conceivably be said to have been established".

The case came to court, even though the university announced in January that it had abandoned the project.

The judge said the matter remained important as the permission granted to Cambridge last November stands for five years.

Also, at any time during that period the university authorities can change their mind and opt to proceed after all.

Animal rights protesters called the public inquiry worthless because it was "a foregone conclusion" and the government was determined to give the controversial "monkey laboratory" project the go-ahead.

The inquiry took place over 11 days between November 2002 and January 2003 and ended with the inquiry inspector also recommending refusal.

Mr Prescott rejected the recommendation on the grounds that there was a "national need" for the new research facility and granted permission.

The BBC's Jackie Rowland
"One of the world's leading universities appears to have given into the pressure"

Challenge to animal lab decision
26 Jul 04  |  Cambridgeshire
Builder abandons animal lab work
19 Jul 04  |  Science/Nature
Legal challenge to primate centre
03 Jan 04  |  Science/Nature


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