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Imperial College animal research chief steps down

The official responsible for animal research at Imperial College London (ICL) has stepped down following criticism of aspects of the university’s work with animals.

The move comes a few days after an independent government advisory group, the Animals in Science Committee (ASC), urged the Home Office minister in charge of animal research to “consider whether he can continue to have confidence” in John Neilson, the ‘licence holder’ for animal work at ICL. The university had said that it “fully supports” Neilson, but today it confirmed that he was stepping down.

Neilson will continue as the university’s registrar but will no longer be responsible for animal research.

The ASC’s statement came in a report stemming from allegations raised by the anti-animal research group BUAV, which had conducted an undercover investigation at the university. A separate independent review organised by the university found that animals were well cared for, but that there were staffing and management problems.

Norman Baker, the minister with responsibility for animal research, said in a statement today that he believes Neilson’s move will enable Imperial to “make a fresh start and move forward. I am pleased to note that significant progress has already been made by ICL in addressing the matters identified.”

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