The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) has welcomed support from Ricky Gervais and Paul O'Grady, who have joined the NAVS campaign to end secrecy in animal experiments in the UK.

They are among 24 celebrities who have signed up to a statement urging the repeal of Section 24, the animal experiment ‘secrecy clause’ which is currently under review by the Government. Members of the public have until June 13th to have their say.

The NAVS President Jan Creamer, “The repeal of Section 24 is long overdue and a growing number of voices, including the Government themselves, agree that action must be taken. The situation as it stands is untenable. Please join the NAVS campaign to end animal experiment secrecy by responding to the Government’s public consultation before June 13th.”

The NAVS campaign to repeal Section 24 is supported by 24 celebrities, including Ricky Gervais, Paul O’Grady, Chris Packham, Joanna Lumley, Twiggy, Brian Blessed, Colin Baker, Annette Crosbie, Gemma Atkinson, Meg Mathews, Alexei Sayle, Sadie Frost, Benjamin Zephaniah, Eddie Izzard, Jenny Seagrove, Lynsey de Paul, Peter Egan, Julia Peasgood, Samantha Womack, Wendy Turner-Webster, Martin Shaw, Prunella Scales, Julian Clary and Ann Widdecombe, who has written an article on the need for openness in animal experiments.

The celebrities join over 30 organisations, companies and eminent individuals who have signed the NAVS statement of support to date, including Sir Jonathon Porritt, Peter Tatchell, Campaign for Freedom of Information, Voice for Ethical Research at Oxford and The Kennel Club. MPs from all parties have supported motions calling for reform and Minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach has stated that the provisions in Section 24 are “out of step with government policy on openness and transparency”.

Over 4 million animals are experimented on in the UK each year, and the use of animals in research is an issue of considerable public concern. Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act – the legislation governing the use of animals in research – prevents details of animal experiments being revealed; to do so would be a criminal offence carrying a two year prison term, even with the researcher’s consent. The clause has constrained public debate and inhibited scientific and ethical scrutiny of the use of animals in research.

The NAVS is leading the call to remove Section 24 and is also urging the Government to allow licence applications for research projects using animals to be made public before experiments are given the go-ahead. Opening up the application process for animal experiments would allow organisations to help identify duplicate experiments and highlight where non-animal technology can be used to benefit humans and animals alike.

The NAVS has produced postcards to enable members of the public to take part in the Government consultation which can be ordered by calling the NAVS on 020 7630 3340. You can also complete the consultation online, using the NAVS guide. The consultation closing date is Friday, 13th June.

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